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Euthanasia Is Not Murder Essay Research Paper

Euthanasia Is Not Murder Essay, Research Paper

Euthanasia is Not Murder

Debate continues over the issue of euthanasia because of the recent court

decision over Dr. Death. Kevorkian has been aquitted of murder in his assisted

suicide cases and the court has created precedent for the legalization of

selecting death. Euthanasia does take place and is selected voluntarily by

patients who are in great pain due to an incurable illness like cancer. Usually,

the decision is made to pull the plugs of machines which prolong life or to end

treatment. Because patients select to die, their deaths end suffering, and

there is no intention to cause harm, physician assisted euthanasia cannot be

considered murder.

Murder can be defined as an act of violence which is perpetrated against a

victim. For example, a man stuffed into a car after being shot five times is a

murder victim. The individual dies at a time which is forced by the killer who

has intent to harm him or her. For instance, when the Boston strangler killed

the women, he first terrorized them. Frequently murder is painfuland the person

who is dying has not voluntarily decided to participate in his or her death. By

its nature, murder is death by violence at a time of the killer’s rather than

nature’s choosing.

Unlike murder, euthanasia is not an act of violence. In an editorial in

the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Dr. Eric Chevlen argues that patients, who are worn

down by pain, extensive testing, and depression, will be easily persuaded to

seek assisted suicide (11B). Furthermore, Chevlen mentions that the courts have

decided that the right to die should be made available to everyone (11B).

Modern medical technology has allowed doctors to prolong life past the point of

a patient’s natural death. In the case of euthanasia, the doctor needs to end

suffering from cancer or AIDS and assist the patient to die comfortably.

Patients are beginning to assert their right to die rather than being kept alive

forcibly. For example, a Texan who suffered burns in a gas explosion, Dan

Cowart wanted to die even though he survived the accident. He believes that his

rights were violated by the doctors who prevented his death through life-

sustaining treatment. When a patient like Cowart is in constant pain, death

becomes a peaceful reward.

Additionally, doctor assisted euthanasia is performed with the full consent

of the patient. Murder steals life, while euthanasia gives the patient release.

A patient with a degenerative neurological condition has, in one case, begged

ofr help to die. The patients who have been helped by Dr. Kevorkian have all

been cancer victims whose daily bouts with pain…..,…….. The patients have

requested their delivery from life. Muder on the other hand, usually takes the

victim by surprise. Another person has, for the most part, decided when the

murdered individual will die and by what method, but the slain person has not

given permission to be killed.

Finally, murders are committed with malice or harmful intent. People are

killed to keep secrets, steal power or money, and for other reasons, usually

criminal in nature. In other cases, a person is killed out of hatred or

because someone has determined that the person belongs to the wrong church,

ethnic group, or political affiliation. For example, hate crimes like murdering

African Americans, Jews, or other ethnic groups, are done out of an intention to

harm these people to get rid of them. Genocide like that done by Hitler was

wholesome murder. Like Dr. Kevorkian, other doctors who assist patients in

ending their lives help people to end pain and sufferining. Part of the

doctor’s oath is to offer ease, and those patients, who desire to prevent

artificial prolongation of life on machines or stop pain caused by cancer or

other terminal diseases, see assisted suicide as a legitimate way out of their

personal hell.

Opponents to euthanasia see ven assisted suicide as murder. They hold that

euthanasia’s legalization will give doctors a license to kill. Dr. Chevlen has

expressed a fear that patients are “battered by a society whose laws have

equated ‘terminally ill’ with ‘worthless’.” “He states, “Forse is not necessary

in such a situation. Persuasion suffices to convince the patient to choose

death. (B11) According to an Internet survey, samples of doctors questioned

about euthanasia reported that they did not consult ohter physicians or even

falsified the cause of death. Euthanasia opponents claim that doctors have a

duty to save lives and should not take a person off a machine, if the machine

will maintain life. Furthermore, the opponents to euthanasia see it as murder

because some patients, after they are helped, are brain dead and unable to know

what is happenening to them . Those who do not see euthanasia as murder counter

this claim by saying that the doctors have written consent from a time when the

patient was lucid. Additionally, if a person’s brain is dead, legally that

person is already biologically dead and it is not murder to stop life support.

Derek Humphry, founder of the Hemlock Society in 1980, leads the movement for

the right to die for those people who believe that they would desire death if

they were incapacitated. Those who join the society believe that the government

should protect an individual’s right to privacy, allowing him or her to die with

dignity in a more natural way.

In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed certain legislation

permitting passive euthanasia to be used in cases where the patient was brain

dead. Thus, in such cases as that of Karen Anne Quinlan have has historical

impact on the medical profession. Quinlan’s parents petitioned the courts to

stop using a respirator to assist Karen breathe. In 1976, the courts gave the

permission parents sought (Spring and Larson 155-156). However, no cases have

yet set a precedent for active euthanasia, meaning that legally active

euthanasia is still very controversial. Hence, doctors who support active

euthanasia and feel morally obligated to help a patient end pain and suffering,

will fulfill their duty by assisting that patient to die more comfortably. In

such cases, euthanasia cannot be considered as murder.