Is Euthanasia morally acceptable?

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Euthanasia over the years has been described as a “gentle way to ease the pain of a suffering individual” (Torr 12).  There are many who justify this feat as a way to eliminate unnecessary terminal pain, and who value the quality of life, rather than the quantity of it.  However, it is in particular that we focus on how religious groups see and view the act of euthanasia.  Although religion has the ability to divide the world, the issue of euthanasia is one where world religions unite and refute to accept a suffering human being, having the ultimate choice in terminating their life.

        The term “euthanasia” is derived from Ancient Greek and it means “good death” (Torr 12).  “Euthanasia, and the public’s awareness to this matter, can be traced back to a court case in 1975, when Karen Ann Quinlan consumed an immense amount of alcohol and tranquilizers at a party one night.  This resulted in an irreversible coma that left her unable to breathe without a respirator or eat without a feeding tube.  Her parents requested that she be removed from this situation, but the doctors objected to this idea.  The court stepped in and allowed Quinlan’s parents to have her respirator removed.  Although Quinlan lived for another nine years (her parents did not remove her feeding tube), the case set a model for a patient’s right to refuse unwanted medical treatment. This case recognized that some lifesaving treatments are not always appropriate, and permitted the removal of these treatments as a form of “passive” euthanasia” (Torr 13).  Paradoxical to the idea of passive euthanasia, is the person most influential for bringing attention to the issue of mercy killing, Jack Kevorkian.  Kevorkian, who has admitted in helping over 130 people die, has been described as “unorthodox and radical in his ethics and performance” (Torr 14). He did not know a lot of his patients personally, and many were not even terminally ill when Jack assisted in ending his patient’s lives.  “Kevorkian was convicted on murder charges after administering a fatal injection into a patient suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease.  The judge in this case would not allow testimony about the patients pain and suffering, and emphasized that whether the victim consented to this end is legally irrelevant in a murder case”(Torr 14).

“Not everyone wants a lingering death.”  That is a very thought provoking quote from Derek Humphry who wrote and supported the notion of voluntary euthanasia being perceived as ethical and humane (17).  He justified suffering as a means of “relieving unbearable suffering, as long as it is limited to fully informed adults who specifically request it” (18). The most common reason to seek an early end is “advanced terminal illness that is causing intolerable pain and suffering to an individual” (18). We hear of this plea all too often, when there is no hope and all too much suffering for the patient and their families.   Many supporters of euthanasia propose that the decision of death by euthanasia is “highly personal and that it should be permitted to those who choose to accept it as an end to the chronic pain” (19).  Humphry’s thoughts on this subject are not without rational reasoning and insight.  He pays special attention to hospice programs and the “phenomenal assistance that they provide with affection, concern, and comfort” (19).  Some hospice programs claim that their care is so complete; there would be no reason to consider euthanasia.  Humphry disagrees and states that “a lot of terminal pain can be controlled by medicine and drugs, that take away from some individuals desire for a personal quality of life, rather than a prolonged one filled with suffering and pain”(19).  

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Voluntary euthanasia and its compassion for the dying, is another thought that some may justify assisted suicide with.  Marcia Angell, an executive editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, asserts that “voluntary euthanasia is often the most humane way to administer a fast, painless death to somebody that has been in excruciating and hopeless pain” (Angell 46).  Angell proposed that the problem of “dying in agony” will never go away (47).  In her view, “it is time to incorporate physician-assisted suicide into our medical system under certain well-defined circumstances” (48).

Many Christians who believe in euthanasia justify it ...

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