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Kandis Stone

Ms. Talarico

English III

6 March, 2018

A Dignified Death

Eleven-month old Charlie Gard had a disease called infantile onset encephalomyopathic

mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDDS). It is a hereditary and terminal disease. He had

been suffering with degenerative brain damage since birth and could not breathe without a

ventilator or move without help. Charlie’s parents had been battling court over his end-of-life

care and were raising some questions about the family, autonomy, and the level of public interest

in institutions at large (Burton). Charlie’s doctor thought it would be in his best interest to

remove the ventilator and start to focus on making him feel comfortable during his last few days

(Burton). Making patients as comfortable as they can in their last few days are important. They

should not feel like they are a burden to their families. Euthanasia should be legalized and only

used for terminally ill patients who are in pain and voluntarily want to die.

In order to understand the controversy surrounding euthanasia, one must first understand

its definition: “Euthanasia is the practice of ending a human life with that person’s consent either

through a specific act or by withholding life-sustaining medical care” (Newton). Euthanasia is

done by a physician who gives a fatal dose of medicine or stops giving medical treatment. With

assisted suicide the physician prescribes the lethal drugs and the patient self administers. Usually

when someone takes another person’s life, it is commonly known as murder, but “euthanasia is

sometimes seen as a benevolent act because it allows a person who is suffering to choose how
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and when to die and to do so with less pain” (Newton). If a patient is sick and in pain and

voluntarily want to end their life, physicians should not be looked at as murderers.

Before medical students go off to start their career they take an oath, the Hippocratic

Oath. This is a promise doctors make. The oath states that physicians should not administer or

suggest that a patient take deadly or lethal drugs to a patient even if they ask for it (Spinney).

Some doctors think they are upholding their promise when they administer the lethal drug to

their patients because they think or feel that they are benefitting the sick. Other doctors think it is

completely wrong to help their patients die, even if it is not the moral thing to do. People in the

United States started to become interested in euthanasia in 1870 when Samuel Williams

proposed to the Birmingham Speculative Club that euthanasia should be allowed, only in cases

of patients who are terminally ill and in pain. Over 30 years later Samuel’s proposal was printed

into all types of books and magazines which discussed the debate. The debate came to its peak in

1906 when the Ohio legislature took up a bill to legalize euthanasia. Months had passed and the

Ohio legislature had decided to reject the bill (Emmanuel). Even though the bill was rejected

over a century ago people are still debating whether this issue should be legalized or not.

There are a several ethical reasons why euthanasia should be used for terminally ill

patients. Relatives and friends are torn and devastated to watch their loved ones suffer in

excruciating pain without morphine or any other medicine, so they say their goodbyes while they

are still coherent (Walter). Public supports lessens when they are asked about euthanasia in

another situation. Two thirds of Americans oppose euthanasia when a terminally ill patient is not

in pain but wants to die because they feel like they are a problem to their families (Emmanuel).

Although assisted suicide provides a quick and painless death, a terminally ill patient must meet
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the normal circumstances. Although it may sound insensitive, “The decision to end life on their

own terms saves precious medical resources” (Walter). Even though their disease is incurable, in

the later stages of their illness, they could just save everyone the medical resources and choose to

end their life. They could also save their families the money from the many expensive medical

bills. By patients choosing to end their lives with assisted suicide or euthanasia, the doctors and

medical resources could have gone to a patient who could actually use them.

After reviewing all the facts about euthanasia it would be a good and slightly easier way

to help terminally ill patients who are suffering and in pain to end their lives. Patients with

depression and psychological problems are more likely to request physician assisted suicide or

euthanasia (Emanuel). Many people would support the practice for patients that are only in pain

and they oppose euthanasia for the patients who worry about their lives having no hope or

meaning. A lot of patients are interested in euthanasia or assisted suicide, but some people argue

that it would not benefit but also provide reassurance to millions of other Americans who would

find comfort in knowing that they had options. However, if one patient finds comfort in

physician assisted suicide then another patient might be afraid that his/her doctor would not want

to do everything in their power to save them. Perhaps this is why people are given a choice for

their course of treatment. In some aspects of American society ending lives is acceptable, such as

through abortion or the death penalty. However, euthanasia and assisted suicide is frowned upon.

This shows the contradictions of these issues: “These same citizens, though, are not entrusted

with the same authority to make that decision when it comes to their own lives in the extreme

case of an incurable, terminal illness. Such a contradiction cannot stand” (Walter).