Legal Euthanasia Essay

Submitted By gabriellaaa0x
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Euthanasia: Should People Have the Right to Die
Gabriella Esposito
Professor Luzky Sociology 181-06
November 18, 2012

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, euthanasia is defined as “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals in a relatively painless ways for reasons of mercy…by taking less then complete medical measures to prolong life.” Euthanasia is legal in very few places around the world. In the United States, Oregon, Washington has legalized euthanasia as well as the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Montana’s Supreme Court in 2010 determined that assisted suicide is considered a medical treatment. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are almost the same thing but they are also slightly different. Euthanasia occurs when a doctor performs the act in which causes death. Assisted suicide is when the patient performs an act with the prior help of a doctor that causes death. For example, if the performing doctor injects the fatal injection which in turn cause a patient’s death with their permission it would be considered euthanasia. If the performing doctor sets up the needle and fatal injection the patient gives to himself and it causes death is called assisted suicide. A recent study shows that 65% of people are for the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide. Some of the reasons that people believe euthanasia should be legal are for patient unbearable physical and/or emotional pain, because many people believe that it is wrong to keep a person alive beyond their natural life span, and some people also believe that they should not be forced to stay alive, that they should have to right to decide when their life should end. A person can be declared legally dead if there is no brainwave activity within 24 hours, and if they have no heartbeat, respiration, or reflexes without artificial support. I believe if a person is in a vegetative state like that they should have the right to die if they please. I also believe that in order for a doctor to perform this assisted suicide or euthanasia there should be some kind of prior statement from the patient stating that they do indeed want that. This should be a written document filled out by this person so it would reduce the occurrence of cases similar to Terri Schiavo and her husband Michael Schiavo. Terri Schiavo suffered severe brain damage when she was 26 years old. Although she was sent to a rehabilitation center, the damage was too severe and she was never able to regain much of her brain function. After 18 years her husband filed to have her feeding tube removed and her parents fought this request. Michael stated that she told him before the accident that she did not want to be kept on artificial life support is anything were to happen to her. Her parents strongly disagreed but the case went on and eventually Michael Schiavo won and her feeding tube was removed. The case was appealed and the tube was reinserted but days later it was taken out again Terri was declared as in a persistent vegetative state “beyond all doubt.” This is an important case in debate of whether euthanasia should be legalized or not. Her parents believe that in society, “we have become comfortable to kill someone simply because they have a brain injury.” However, Michael believes that he was just carrying out with wife’s wishes. He was considered the legal guardian and was the one that was in charge of her decisions. Another important case in the euthanasia debate is the case of Karen Ann Quinlan. After consuming alcohol and sedatives, Karen collapsed and was later diagnosed as in a persistent vegetative state. The doctors told Karen’s parents that she did not have a possibility of returning into consciousness and her condition was considered as irreversible. She was not able to breathe on her own and was not responding to any kind of stimuli. Her parents, Joseph and Julia Quinlan decided that they wanted to…