Euthanasia Over the years, the practice of physician assisted suicide, affectionately know as euthanasia, has evolved into one of the biggest social issues in the United States and the World. There have been many controversies over whether or not euthanasia is justified.

In some places in the United States, euthanasia is considered murder (Jussim 47). It is then treated as a murder case and murder penalties are used. There has been a whole change in euthanasia over the centuries, but it still serves the same purpose. Euthanasia or assisted suicide in Greek means “easy death”.When broken down, it means the process of one being euthanized, which means to kill without pain. The process of euthanasia has actually been practiced for thousands of years, rooting all the way back to the ancient Egyptians.

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They practiced euthanasia in all sorts of ways. A good example of this is when somebody was suffering from a terminal disease or a gaping, festering wound, or even when an appendage or limb was severed off they would put the victim to sleep using a natural poison called ether. Using a rod, they pulled the victims brain out through the nose, killing the victim (Jussim 53).Euthanasia was then brought up again in the medieval times. When the person was ill with any type of disease that could not be treated, or what is called a terminal illness, a poison was put in the cup of the victim. The victim would then administer the drug himself, clearing the person who put the poison in the drink of any wrongdoing. This poison would put the person to sleep, into a coma. Then, about ten minutes later, a person with a cover over his head so he could remain anonymous, came in and stabbed the victim through the heart.

The victim supposedly felt no pain (Jussim 61). In the United States today when somebody wants to use euthanasia as a form of dying, a physician is called in to administer the drug. Physician aid-in-dying is assistance by a qualified medical practitioner in implementing a patient’s considered wish to end his or her own life, usually by means of lethal injection.

In the Netherlands, the practice is an injection to render the patient comatose, followed by a second injection called potassium phosphate. In cases where the patient takes the lethal drug, currently 10g of pentobarbitone, the doctor is present in 20% of the cases. However where death does not occur within 12 hours, the doctor is on hand to administer a second drug to accelerate death, rather than allowing the patient the indignity of lying in a coma for up to four days, waiting for death to occur (McCuen 81).Objections that the legalization of the practice would be open to abuse are not sustained by close examination of data.

Patients are already “eased into death” with morphine under the euphemistic doctrine of “double effect”. Published figures suggest that ethical criteria in the Netherlands are similar to those already practiced in the United States. Legal safeguards for the various situations have been thoroughly prepared by legal researchers in draft legislation.

Trends show that the practice will continue whether or not it is regulated by the legislation (McCuen 118). Although the possibility of physician-assisted suicide is welcome news to many people who may be facing the prospect of an agonizing, humiliating and long drawn out disease while still having some physical capabilities, it is of little reassurance to someone who is suffering from a wasting disease.The disease will eventually omit the patients’ ability to commit suicide. Also, death by oral ingestion of drugs is far less effective than by skillful injection. A doctor on hand can make necessary adjustments of dosage for the patients’ weight, condition, age, and history.

This, in essence, is the Dutch argument, and although drugs are often been made available for the patient to take orally by his or her own hand, if and when desired and after due consultation, a physician is generally present to offer the technical support that a patient has the right to expect (McCuen 112). When a person is terminally ill, his family might suggest the possibility of euthanasia, when in fact, the person that is ill can only request it. When a patient requests euthanasia, the first step is to try to improve palliative care in hopes that euthanasia might be avoided.The term “palliative care” means surgery to improve the condition of a disease. If this does not lessen the emotional or physical discomfort of the patient or his family, doctors then discuss the option of euthanasia, each having an equal say in the decision making process. Any member of the decision making team has the right to refuse cooperation in the case of euthanasia, but this refusal cannot stop euthanasia from taking place. The family may offer spiritual input, but is not involved in the final decision, nor can a family member request euthanasia for an ill family member.

ONLY A PATIENT CAN REQUEST EUTHANASIA.This protects the patient in two ways: the family cannot force euthanasia upon the patient and the family cannot prevent euthanasia if the patient insists on it (McCuen 127-128) In the United States today, euthanasia continues to raise many legal problems, such as in cases in which parents and doctors decide not to pursue drastic life-saving measures for children born with severe birth defects. An enduring ethical question is also raised by the Hippocratic oath, which requires physicians both to relieve suffering and to prolong life.

The problem is intensified because the definition of death has become blurred. Formerly, a person was considered dead when breathing and heart action ceased. Since these functions can be maintained artificially now, a definition of death that includes brain death-lack of electrical activity for a period long enough to make return to functioning virtually impossible-is widely accepted (Baird 37) Euthanasia, even though used as a beneficial process for leaving the world, has its downsides.

In the United States, euthanasia is a serious crime, punishable by life imprisonment.Some doctors are helping terminally ill patients commit suicide-a so-called physician-assisted suicide-without being punished. One of these doctors is a man by the name of Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Jack Kevorkian, affectionately known as “Dr.

Death” was born in Pontiac, Michigan on May 26, 1928.He has gained notoriety in the early 1990s for his crusade to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Kevorkian graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1952 with a specialty in pathology but never settled into a steady practice, instead spending his working years moving among hospitals in Michigan and southern California. During these years he developed his ideas on assisted suicide for terminally ill patients and built a so-called “suicide machine”, by which patients could administer carbon monoxide to themselves.

Kevorkian became widely know in 1990 when a woman in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease used his machine to end her life. The machine that she used was a different one than the earlier one that Kevorkian concocted. This machine had two tubes-one containing a harmless saline solution and one containing the deadly poison potassium phenophaline, that were connected intravenously to the patient.When the patient was ready to die, he would press a button in his hand, stopping the saline solution.

The potassium phenophaline would then run into the patient, rendering him comatose. About five minutes later, the patient’s heart goes into arrest, as a result of the poison. Ever since this woman’s death, he has assisted more than 20 people with debilitating chronic illness or terminal diseases to end their lives (AOL 97). After several unsuccessful attempts to charge Kevorkian with murder, Michigan in 1993 passed a temporary ban on assisted-suicide.

Kevorkian was convicted under the law, but it was overturned. Both the law and Kevorkian’s legal situation remained unresolved. Kevorkian’s activities have frustrated the medical profession as well, which is divided over the issue of euthanasia.Even those who are sympathetic towards Kevorkian’s avowed intent of allowing suffering patients to die are deeply troubled by his relatively short evaluation and counseling methods and criticize his oversimplification of the issues (AOL 96). There are only a few places in the world where physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia are legal and widely accepted.

Only in some countries in Europe is euthanasia legal. These countries include the Netherlands, Poland, and Finland. In these countries, euthanasia accounts for more than 5% of the deaths (Jussim 78).


Euthanasia Opium- an addictive drug originally used as a painkiller. It is obtained from the unripe seeds of the opium poppy and can be made into substances that a person can smoke causing relaxation, alleviated anxiety, and a state of euphoria. Continued use of the drug also induces deterioration to the mind and body of a person eventually causing death. The substance was therefore stated illegal in China during the late 18th Century yet consistently smuggled into the country via British merchant ships. As the Chinese placed more restrictions on trade in an effort to abolish the importation of opium, the battle against the drug raged on until war was unavoidable between England and China.

It is this war that lasted from 1839-1842 which eventually led to the British reign over Hong Kong and legalization of opium trade in China as well as the opening of many trade routes along the Chinese coast. The British success of the war is unarguable, however, the extent to which they devastated China could have possibly been avoided if the Chinese emperor had received accurate information regarding his country’s failure during the first battles. If the emperor had known of his navy’s lack of success against British warships a compromise could have been met however, due to inaccurate reports to and from commissioner Lin Tse-hsu the emperor was unaware of England’s inevitable victory.

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With Lin in charge, Chinese success over the opium trade was going well and followed through to an extreme degree. The presence of soldiers in Canton, the main trading port between them and the British, and the threat of potential execution to any person found using or selling the drug illustrated the extent to which Lin would proceed.(So then) The opium crisis began in 1837 when Chinese officials disrupted the smuggling by burning the boats used to carry the opium ashore from the floating warehouses. It was such threats that prompted Palmerston of England to dispatch a warship to China to protect British property in 1837.

Despite this, China still raged on against the narcotic and in March of 1839 convinced the head of the British trade commission at Canton, Captain Charles Elliot, to hand over more than 20,000 chests of opium. However, after the killing of a Chinese by drunken seamen and the lack of punishment put forth on them by the British, Lin suppressed all trade with England and proceeded with other measures as well. Lin ordered that delivery of all rice, tea, meat and fresh vegetables to the anchored ships at Macao to be intercepted and cut off.

Freshwater springs that were known to be used by the British at various points along the coast were poisoned. Large banners were posted to warn Chinese villagers not to drink from the streams. Lin then pressured the Portuguese authorities at Macao to evict the British from their harbor, under penalty of severe trade restrictions. These drastic measures forced all of the British ships to retreat from Macao to Hong Kong by the middle of August.

However, such trade limitations would not go well with England and a severe response was in order.On August 31, Commissioner Lin learned that the merchant ships anchored off Hong Kong had been joined by a twenty-eight gun British frigate. Although this news was not good, Lin, who had the use of a fleet of Chinese war junks at his disposal, was not frightened by the arrival of a single British warship. Finally the first confrontation between the two navies occurred and it was the barbarians, as thought by the Chinese, that were victorious. Although the Chinese warships returned the British fire, they did no damage to the British ships, and were forced to retreat after being badly shot up by cannonballs.

The captains of the defeated Chinese junks feared that their failure would be viewed by higher authorities as a disgraceful act of cowardice. The captains therefore reported to Commissioner Lin that they had won a victory and had sunk a British ship.This incident also represents the first of inaccurate messages passed to Chinese officials providing the government with a false sense of security. The British response was not one intended for violence however. For security, a second armed vessel joined England’s entourage in an effort to deliver a sealed letter to the Chinese. However, the Chinese refused to open the message before returning it triggering another battle. The British immediately sank five of the largest Chinese war junks and severely damaged many others in an attack that lasted just under 45 minutes.

Once again the Chinese suffered significant losses against superior weaponry and once more out of fear, falsified the encounter. Commissioner Lin now faced serious difficulties. If he truthfully reported his defeat to the Emperor, he was likely to be disgraced and punished. He therefore kept his report of the battle brief and vague, describing six imaginary “smashing blows” that had been inflicted on the impetuous British barbarians. This conveniently crafted statement no doubt prolonged Lin’s authoritative position in addition to providing the Chinese government with more unfounded confidence, which would soon be exploited. In the beginning of June, 1840, Lin suddenly found himself confronting a large British expeditionary force that had come from Singapore, which included steam-powered gunboats and thousands of British marines.

In a report to the Emperor, Lin wrote, “English warships are now arriving at Canton. Although it is certain that they will not venture to create a disturbance here, I am certain that they will, like great rats, attempt to shelter the vile sellers of opium.” Still confident that the Chinese coast-guard could prevail in the event of trouble, Lin concluded “People say that our junks and guns are no match for the British.

..But they do not know!” Commissioner Lin’s forces, however, proved to be no match for the invaders, who immediately imposed a blockade on the Canton estuary, then attacked and took control of strategically important sites along the China coast. There was no way of disguising this loss to the Emperor and Lin was justly reassigned. However, ten years later Lin was once again told to stop the trade of opium but collapsed and died during a trip to Kwangsi. The successive Imperial Commissioners who replaced Lin Tse-hs in Canton were unable to stop the opium traffic.

In conflicts known as the First and Second Opium Wars, British naval and marine forces seized control of Hong Kong, ravaged the Chinese coastline and briefly occupied the capital city of Peking. In 1858 the Chinese government, bowing to British demands, reluctantly legalized the importation of opium.These wars have faced the efforts for justification and many reasons can be found. However, the underlying reasons for war rarely live up to the expenses paid.

The wars waged on the Chinese people caused untold deaths and casualties. The British destroyed, plundered, looted and raped their way along the coast of China. Had the Chinese properly been notified on the trend of the war, perhaps these lives would have been spared.Legal Issues.


Euthanasia & Assisted SuicideTo be or not to beProblem:Life is a precious gift containing a wide spectrum of emotions and experiences that make it so sacred.

Emotions and experiences are intertwined and are the substance of ones existence. Yet when the pain outweighs the joy of life one begins questioning whether or not to endure. To be or not to be an extremely difficult question, a query that resides souly in desperation a place of pain and darkness. What brings a person to even consider such an act? What is up ahead or around this individual that feeds the need to bail out? It seems that perpetual pain or loss of ones control are both common reasons for this escape. Euthanasia and assisted suicide have both been topics contemplated throughout the history of human civilization. Whether or not one has the right to take their own life and further more get aid in doing so. Euthanasia can be traced as far back as to the ancient Greek and Roman civilization where it was allowed to help others die(Encarta 98). This practice has followed us through the years and has been rejected accepted and considered throughout the globe.

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In the United States the first doctor was charged for performing euthanasia in 1935. Harold Blazer was charged for the death of his daughter a victim of spinal meningitis. After caring for her for thirty years, he placed a rag of chloroform over her face until she died, he was acquitted from charges (www. In Holland euthanasia and assisted suicide are both crimes punishable with 12 years in prison, yet it has been a common practice (3,600 cases in 1995 alone) for nearly a decade. These laws are rarely enforced providing physicians follow official guidelines (

Currently in the United States controversy swarms on weather or not to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide. Marian Fredrick stricken with Lou Gehrigs disease, felt her muscles degenerate to the point where she could no longer hold her head up, or speak. Marian then decided to end her life seeking out Dr. Kevorkian, who helped her find a final peace(Proposal B). Should we allow a person who is terminally ill, in constant pain, and on the verge of losing control, the right and the privilege to escape from their fading shell? Should they have the right to seek aid and consolation in this important decision? Absolutely, why should others moral conflictions and dispossessions inflict upon ones choice to end their own suffering.

These individuals should also be free to seek aid from a trusted and knowledgeable physician to ensure their final transition is a fluid, painless, and clean one. Proposal:One should be permitted under the appropriate circumstances to decide the manner of their own death. By legalizing physician assistance, it not only frees the one fifth of doctors who claim would do it if legal, but it also frees discussions between the patent and their doctor, there by leaving the suffer better informed of his or her options ( Euthanasia and assisted suicide be made legal under federal statute, granting under law that if; an individual voluntary requests to cease their existence they may do so with assistance, providing they meet the necessary guidelines.

Implementation:The road to implementing this controversial bill would be a difficult one starting with a defined draft of its guidelines and structure. The guidelines would be used to assist in determining if an individual is an appropriate candidate for this final treatment. When considering assisted suicide requests the physician and a certified board would consider a four point criteria: (1. Patient makes a voluntary, informed and stable request (2. The patient is suffering unbearably with no prospect of improvement (3. Loss of dignity (4. Is severely impaired by symptoms and has become a burden (Encarta 98).

Further if the patient meets the criteria the physician must file with the state and have a boards signature approval. There after the procedure would be witnessed by a second licensed impractical physician to ensure that the death is humane and voluntary. Next step is gaining a concencess to push the Right to die bill into legislation, initiated by an organized Right to die campaign. This campaign would utilize medias and empathy to inform and win over the masses, through depiction of the intense pain and hopelessness that grips these individuals. The public support achieved will be used to pressure positions to act and introduce the Right to die bill into congress. After the ratification of the bill the needed structures would be introduced containing, checks regulations and certified organizations with in a span of fives years.

Once the prescribe time is reached and the infrastructure is established, practice can begin. Problems:Often with any movement there is a friction, which slows or inhabits movement. This controversial bill would be weighted heavily by theologians, moralists, and the meek all hanging on the bill in an attempt to bring it to its knees. The moral and the religious stance would be that life is a precious gift that can be only be given by God and taken by God. The meek and uninformed would see the bill as a loss of control and a potential area of abuse. These groups would most likely unite to push agents the bill with a counter Right to live campaign, using the media as well as pushing the populists religious and apprehensious pressure points.

Pressure on politicians is another poetical threat that the large religious community would exercise, against peoples freedom to chose their own end. Others beliefs should not infringe on the decision concerning ones self, these individuals are free not to participate or believe in this practice, yet to cause another to suffer at their expense is truly unjust. Efforts would have to be increased as a result at better informing the public help people evaluate others belief over ones freedom. Another potential problem is the abuse of this practice, where individuals would be taken advantage of by a devious doctor. The involvement of the state with procedures, monitors, and checks would play a important role in reducing if not eliminating abuse. Problems are to be expected, in almost any instance concerning the mass public, yet hopefully the majority can make the right decision.


In today’s society, one of the most controversial issues is physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. Many people feel that it is wrong for people, regardless of their health condition, to ask their health care provider to end their life; while others feel it is their right to be able to choose how and when they die. When a physician is asked to help a patient into death, they have many responsibilities that come along with that single question. Among those responsibilities are: providing valid information as to the terminal illness the patient is suffering, educating the patient as to what their final options may be, making the decision of whether or not to help the patient into death, and also if they do decide to help, providing the lethal dose of medication that will end the patient’s life. For those who believe physician-assisted suicide should be their choice, they feel it should be legalized because: they don’t want to go through the suffering caused by the terminal illness; they fear the loss of their autonomy (independence); becoming a burden to their family or friends, and also the fear of dying alone. One the other hand those opposed to assisted suicide feel it goes against religious beliefs and medical ethics. They also believe that there is always the possibility that a miracle will occur and the patient will overcome the illness and also that the doctor could have provided the wrong prognosis/diagnosis to the patient.

The strongest reason against physician-assisted suicide has been the idea that if assisted suicide becomes legal, it will get out of hand and target certain people in society, such as those with disabilities, or certain races.

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Euthanasia The word euthanasia is derived from the Greek word eu for good and thantos which means death and originally referred to intentional mercy killing. But the word it euthanasia has acquired a more complex meaning in modern times. Proponents of euthanasia believe that a dying patient has the right to end their suffering and leave the world in a dignified manner. Those who contest euthanasia believe that man does not have the right to end another person’s life no matter what pain they endure. Euthanasia is one of the most important public policy issues being debated today.The outcome of debate will profoundly affect family relationships, interaction between doctors and patients, and concepts of basic morality.

The word euthanasia has acquired a complex meaning in modern times. There are several types of euthanasia and one must define them in order to avoid confusion. Passive euthanasia is the process of hastening the death of a person by withdrawing some form of support and letting nature take its course. Such a act would include removing life-support equipment, stopping medical procedures, stopping food and water and allowing the person to die.

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Active euthanasia involves causing the death of a person through a direct action in response to request from that person. This is also called mercy killing. Physician assisted suicide is the process of a physician supplying information and or the means of committing suicide to a patient.

This would include writing a prescription for a lethal dose of sleeping pills or providing the patient with carbon monoxide gas. Euthanasia has been practiced in some form or another by many societies in our history. In ancient Greece and Rome helping others to die our putting them to death was considered permissible in some situations.In the Greek city of Sparta all newborns with severe birth defects were left to die. Voluntary euthanasia for the elderly was approved custom in several ancient societies. Although euthanasia is widely practiced in the Netherlands it remains technically illegal. In 1995 Australia’s Northern Territory approved a euthanasia bill. It went into effect in 1996 and was overturned by the Australian parliament in 1997.

One may ask, what is the difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide? In euthanasia one person does something that directly kills another. For example a doctor gives a lethal injection to a patient.It assisted suicide, a person knowingly and intentionally provides the means or in some way helps a suicidal person killed himself or herself. For example, a doctor writes a prescription for poison, or someone who hooks up a face mask to a canister of carbon monoxide and then instructs the suicidal person on how to push a lever so that they will be gassed to death. For all practical purposes, any distinction between euthanasia and assisted suicide has been abandoned today.

However passive euthanasia is different than other types of euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is the process of hastening the death of a person by withdrawing some sort of treatment.This includes removing life-support, stopping medical procedures and medications, stopping food and water to the patient and thus allowing him to die. Or not delivering C P R or other resuscitating treatment and allowing the person whose heart has stopped to die. Perhaps the most common form of passive euthanasia is to give a patient at large doses of morphine to control pain, in spite of the likelihood of the painkiller suppressing respiration and causing death earlier that it would otherwise have. Many states in the United States and other countries engage in this type of passive euthanasia to what is known as a health-care proxy or do not resuscitate order. These procedures are usually performed on the terminally ill, suffering patients, so that natural death will occur sooner. It is also opted for persons in a persistent vegetative state, individuals with massive brain damage or in a coma from which they cannot possibly regain conscious.

During the 20th century, major scientific and medical advances have greatly enhance the life expectancy of the average person. There are however many diseases that cannot be cured by modern medicine.Such diseases like AIDS, terminal cancer, multiples scalrosis. These conditions remain a certain death sentence. These diseases leave the patient in a constant state of pain sometimes lasting many weeks or months. There are however other reasons why a person may feel euthanasia is appropriate.

These reasons include the patient feels that the their quality of life has shrunk to zero, they feel the indignities of being cared for as if they were and infant, including being diapered and fed by nurses.Others simply want to die with the dignity before they become sick. Such an example would be a person was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and would like to end their life before serious dementia overtakes their living. These people feel that they would rather die in full mind and body rather to let themselves live a few more years in a vegetative state or with debilitating dementia that does not allow them to recognize their closest family.

Proponents of euthanasia believe that the patient has the right to end their life when it is known that there will not be any recovery and death is imminent. They believe that a human being has the right to die in dignity and a painless death rather than suffer endlessly knowing full well that they will not recover. Those are anti-euthanasia state many reasons for their position.

One reason is because euthanasia is contrary to Judeo-Christian ethics. Many religious groups within Christian, Muslim, Jewish and other religions believe that God gave life and therefore only God should take away

Suicide would then be considered as a rejection of God’s sovereignty and loving plan. They feel that we are all masters of our own lives, but that’s suicide should never be an option. Many other faith groups believe that human suffering can have a positive value for the terminally ill person and for their direct family. A Roman Catholic document mentions that some people prefer to moderate their use of painkillers, in order to accept voluntary at least a part of their sufferings and thus associate themselves in a conscious way with the sufferings of Christ at the time of crucifixition. Some Jews feel that pain and suffering in this world acts as atonement for sinss and transgressions and may benefit them in entering the world to come.The two main arguments offered by Christians and other religious groups are the following: life is a gift from God and that each individual is a gift. Thus only God can start a life and only God should be allowed to end it.

Also, God does not send us any experience that we cannot handle. God supports people and suffering. To actively seek an end to one’s life would represent a lack of trust in God. Those who are pro euthanasia offer the following arguments: each person has autonomy over their own life. If a persons quality of life is nonexistent, they should have the right to decide to commit suicide, and to seek assistance if necessary.

Sometimes a terminal patients pain can cause an unbearable burden, death can represent a relief of intolerable pain. When one discusses euthanasia we must understand that this is a legal view. By passing legislation that allows euthanasia we’re getting the right to doctors and patients to end their lives. We will be allowing euthanasia to become a procedure practiced in the hospital or hospice. In the end it will just be a matter of procedure such as a blood transfusion or operation.One must ask, by denying the legislation of euthanasia are we in fact denying a person to end their life? The answer to this is no. People do have the power to commit suicide.

Suicide and attempted suicide are not criminalized. Each and every year, and the United States alone, there are more suicides than homicides. Suicide is a tragic, individual act. There are several books on the subject of suicide such as Derek Humphreys Final Exit. Organizations such as the Hemlock Society have been established to give information on patients interested in ending their own lives.Euthanasia is not about a private act. It’s about letting one-person facilitate the death of another. Euthanasia is not about giving rights to the person who dies, it is about changing law and public policy so that doctors, relatives and others can directly and intesinaly end another person’s life.

This change would not give rights to the person who is killed, but to the person who does the killing. In other words, euthanasia is not about the right to die. It’s about the right to kill.


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