Euthanasia Debate Essay Sample

You may have heard of the stories of a doctor or nurse deliberately helping their incurable patient pass on to the other side. They are usually promptly arrested, and the mass media enjoys giving these persons names like “Angels of Death” or “Suicide Helpers.” Some people might think such doctors’ actions are merciful and graceful, since many patients who are terminally ill are waiting to die, sometimes being in severe pain. Yet, there are also opponents to this rationale who claim that killing is still killing, no matter what motives the murderer had, or how difficult the patient’s suffering was. One of the main questions in treating patients who cannot be cured is whether mercy killings are to be allowed legally to help end someone’s suffering—the answer should be, “No.”

Euthanasia—the proper term for mercy killing—is the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering. This assumes a patient is aware they are going to die, and in some cases, they must administer the poison themselves. This is also called assisted suicide.

Arguments supporting euthanasia usually present the fact that the patient would have no cure, and no way of contributing to society in the state they are in. They claim humanity cannot help such individuals either: all that can be done is prolonging their agony when suffering from terminal diseases, or letting them live with a defective life in the case of suffering from serious mental deviations. However, the very thought of killing people due to their disabilities seems unnatural; besides, who is competent and authorized enough to decide whom to kill and whom to let live?

The German child Gerhard Kretschmar, whose case is one of the most well-known examples of euthanasia, was born blind, missing limbs, and prone to convulsions. Adolf Hitler gave Kretschmar’s doctor permission to commit a child murder, since medicine could not help him. This incident started the Nazis’ T4 Program (that implied killing incurably ill people, as well as physically and mentally-disabled individuals), and led to the killings of almost 300,000 mentally and physically handicapped people who otherwise would have no other way of being cured (BBC). The problem is that while Kretchmar’s killing was done by parental consent, 5,000 to 8,000 children were forcibly taken from their parents because the state decided to do so. These children were either starved to death or killed by lethal injection.

As the T4 Program continued, handicapped people were killed with gas vans and killing centers, eventually leading to the death of 70,000 German adults. Since this campaign was clearly being used as a murderous machine to take out the unwanted, the definition of euthanasia was stretched to fit the government’s viewpoint. The main danger here is that in the scenario of modern society weakening its control over the issue of euthanasia, history can repeat itself and soon it will be up to the government whether or not you are able to contribute to society.

People who want to commit suicide—due to despair, disappointment, or for any other reason—seem to be unwilling to make this fearsome step on their own. Thus, they strive to share the responsibility of cutting their lives short in the presence of others, basically with doctors. But if a person feels they want to die, they should not bring in someone to do it. If suicide is illegal, then why are we helping people commit suicide? The very fact that people call it mercy killing does not mean that it stops to be a murder, since you still take their lives away.

Euthanasia is an act of seeming mercy, and should not be allowed legally. While being justified as humane towards people who suffer and cannot live a full life, it is a murder no better than many others and different only in motives. No person is authorized to decide whether another person should live or die except that person. In the case of an individual deciding to pass away beforehand, no one should help him or her in this deed. Besides, there exists the danger that governments may take the role of a judge deciding whom to kill, as it has happened in Nazi Germany. The consequences of this could be truly dreadful.

References:
BBC-Genocide Under the Nazis Timeline: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/interactive/timelines/nazi_genocide_timeline/index_embed.shtml.

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Pro Euthanasia Arguments Essay

Modern world is full of sufferings and pain. Present diseases, very often incurable, make people’s life intolerable, steal the sense of life and give a strong inducement to die. Even the contemporary rapid development of medicine does not give the possibility to save people’s life or to relieve their pain.

In the light of this situation, the problem of euthanasia is of current importance. For the last twenty years, euthanasia has been a subject of much controversy. Doctors, scientists, politicians and representatives of different confessions discuss the possibility of legitimating euthanasia. Various countries take opposite sides and either allow euthanasia or prohibit it. “Euthanasia, however, occurs secretly in all societies including those in which it is held to be immoral and illegal. The core of the challenge of euthanasia is ethical because human life is in stake” (Vaknin, 2). The opponents claim the breach of the God’s right to command the human life, the devaluation of people’s life and state that the legalization of euthanasia is, in fact, the legalization of a murder.

However, I would like to support euthanasia and, with the help of this paper, to argue in favor of it. Euthanasia is “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life so as to relieve intractable suffering” (House of Lords, 12). It is necessary to note that there are several types of euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is already widespread in hospitals and is nothing but the impossibility to cure a person and attempts to alleviate the sufferings with the help of narcotics or the cessation of therapy because of its futility. While passive euthanasia is legally used in hospitals, the application of non-aggressive euthanasia is constantly debated. It stipulates the withdrawal of life support and it can be done either voluntary, that is with the patient’s consent, or non-voluntary, when the patient is unable to decide.

In the case when the euthanasia may be voluntary, I would like to highlight the human right to be in charge of their life. Sick bedridden people are already bereft of all rights; they feel a burden for their relatives. Humble and disabled, they want at least to leave this world peacefully and to die with dignity. Even criminals have a right for their last wish; frankly speaking, it is our duty to fulfill the last wish of sick patients. Besides, if the person’s will is rejected, he or she might try to commit the suicide. So, thus we incite them to a great sin and crime.

Moreover, very often euthanasia is the only way to relieve patients’ pain. Is it human indeed to stay inexorable to people’s requests to set them free from unbearable sufferings? Personally, I believe no one can experience others’ pain, therefore it is impossible to measure whether the person can bear it or not. Besides, a man is created for life, and all of us have the instinct of self-preservation, only people driven to despair by their disease, can ask for death and it is their right. It is necessary to realize how horrible it is to live, being conscious of the forthcoming death. Most people cannot overcome this pressure and lose the sense of life, burdening their own life and the life of their relatives as well. “Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide will shorten the period of pre-mortem suffering and eliminate fear about how and when death will occur. The patient will have a measure of control over the process of dying” (Singer, 58).

In cases of inability of patients to express their will, euthanasia is also possible and is justified. Then the decision should be taken by the relatives, who are responsible for that. Often it is obvious that the patient is doomed to death and has no chances to survive. Still, relatives have to provide all necessary medicines and to pay for places in hospital. It exhausts relatives’ state of mind and has fatal consequences for the family budget. Many families spend their last money on the treatment that is vain.

Another possible reason for the justifying of euthanasia is the lack of space in hospitals for those who can be cured and saved. It is bitter to acknowledge it, but this problem exists in many countries. Those who want to live have no chance to get the proper treatment and care while those who want to die cannot give their place to them.

In fact, I suppose the greatest problem of this controversial point is the inability of the government to implement a thoroughly made law that can foresee all the possible problems of the legalization of euthanasia and avoid them.

To make a conclusion, I am sure that euthanasia has the right to exist in our society. It should be considered not as a murder but as an absolute necessity in urgent situations.

Bibliography:

1. Chochinov H.M. Wilson K.G. The euthanasia debate: attitudes, practices and psychiatric considerations. Can J Psych.,1995
2. Vaknin Sam. Euthanasia and the Right to Die. 18 June, 2007

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