Dr. Kevorkian and the Benefits of Euthanasia
Length: 1936 words (5.5 double-spaced pages)
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Euthanasia consequently does not fall into one of the three causes of death, we consider it between homicide and suicide. Here is where the fireworks really start showing colors. True we could debate various subjects such as gun control, legalization of marijuana, three strikes and so on and so forth. On the other hand euthanasia deals with death totally, once it's done there is no reversal of previous court cases. It is permanent and oops is not mentioned in a sarcastic way.Everybody at one time or another will inevitably have death knocking at the door. And no it will not be Brad Pitt. Coping with death is a very difficult concept to deal with. Dying comes in one of three ways: homicide, suicide and natural causes. There is no debate with regards to homicide, a person takes the life of another person. Suicide is the taking of one's own life, similarly a paper cannot be written for or against it. Last but not least is death by natural causes. I would not want to write a paper on why a one hundred-fifty year old person passes away; could it have been that the person was really really old?
Let's mention a known name in the euthanasia field, Dr. Jack Kevorkian. If this name sounds unfamiliar, then you have been one of the lucky few people to have been living in a cave for the last nine years. Dr. Kevorkian is considered to some as a patriarch, here to serve mankind. Yet others consider him to be an evil villain, a devil's advocate so to speak. Physician assisted suicide has not mentioned in the news recently. But just as you are reading this paper and I'm typing, it's happening. This hyperlink will take you to a web page that depicts in depth how many people Dr. Kevorkian has assisted in taking their lives.
Euthanasia comes from the Greek root-eu, meaning good, and thanatos meaning death. Together they signify "good death." For example, you have a terminal illness and doctors informed you that your life span would not exceed four weeks starting from today, and during this waiting period, you will suffer excruciating pain and unbearable agony. What would you do? You decide to take action. What should it be? An injection, a pill, or jumping off a building? Applying the concept of euthanasia, it means you will either choose an injection or a pill.
Jumping off the building is out of the question because it does not bring a good death.
Derek Humphry, founder of Hemlock society, and now, president of the Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization, quoted: "A caring society...offers euthanasia to hopeless sick person as an act of love." In his book Dying with Dignity, Derek opposed suicide for the mental health or unhappy reasons. For instance, Derek would not allow a person in deep depression to seek escape, using euthanasia. However, he is not against euthanasia for those who suffer from terminal illness or severe handicap (Humphry 17).
Dr. Kevorkian is notoriously known for his mission to promote physician-assisted suicide. In his book Prescription: Medicine, the Goodness of Planned Death, he explains that it is ethical for the physician to assist patients to commit suicide because the patients are the ones who pull the trigger, not the physicians. Therefore, the patient is responsible for the consequences that follow (Kevorkian 48). For example, Dr. Kevorkian invented a device called Mercitron. It injects solution to assist terminally ill people in suicide. However, the terminal ill person must pull the plug by himself or herself. Here is the process: The device is placed next to the patient's bed. Dr. Kevorkian will raise the patients arm vertically and insert the needle. The solution won't travel upward because of the gravity and air pressure that act on it. Once the patient is ready, he/she can lower the arm below the device and allow the deadly chemical to invade the body.
Dying can be difficult for the terminally ill people. Many times these people cannot move or even swallow the pills. They need help. Help can be considered as rescue because these people are trapped in a dying body. Kevorkian comes along with an extended hand to offer rescue for these people who are helpless in the face of torture (Kevorkian 53). In other words, Kevorkian viewed that assisted suicide is another form of rescue.
We all have the right to live; we also have the right to die. Death is the opposite of life, just as black is the opposite of white. Out these two choices, some people, like the terminal ill, prefer death rather than life. To the terminally ill people, life is just a step away from a bottomless pit. Death perhaps is their only way to find sanctuary. So lets give these worried and terrified souls a chance to rest in peace.
Euthanasia means "good death" in Greek, but in the modern society, euthanasia is another form of homicide. Patients that are terminally ill should not seek suicide as a way to end their pain. There are drugs that doctors can prescribe to help ease the pain and help you cope with your life. Assisted suicide is not the answer; there are a lot of ethical morals behind this. First of all, assisted suicide is suicide. A doctor needs the consent from the patient to help them die; they don't do it because they feel it is the best thing for the patient. The patient decides what is best for them.
Religion plays a very important role to how your life should end. Life is a gift from God and suffering is sent by God to be endured (Wylie, Texas,49). Who is to say when we should live or when we should die? Only God can determine that for us. People were sent here to live for a purpose and that is to test our belief in him. If we end it by assisted suicide, then we are doing it with the wrong intention, selfishness. Everybody has to go through rough times in life whether it is big or small. People with health problems like cancer, organ failure, or AIDS are usually the ones who think about assisted suicide, still many have died the natural way. Almost every religion has teachings that say suicide is wrong and impose a penalty for it as well. Assisted suicide falls in that category because you have to give the doctors your consent to help you die.
Christianity for example says that God himself is the master of life and death and whoever commits suicide is playing the role of God (Wyile, Texas, 49). The hypocrisy here is that nowhere in the Bible does it state suicide is a sin. People that commit suicide are treated with compassion rather than contempt (Wylie, Texas, 49). Buddhists believe that the pain that people experience is brought by actions in your previous life, so the pain that one experience must be fulfilled, otherwise serious consequences will take place in your next life. This is better known as karma. Assisted suicide in this case is also a bad idea.
Movies in general, rarely talk about life after death but one in particular clearly states the point of view on suicide, "What Dreams May Come". This movie talks about a woman's family dying tragically. Her two children died in a car accident in the way to school, and her husband got ran over by a car while helping another person. This woman was left with nothing but despair. All she could think about was her family and how it was her fault that they died. She thought that there is no reason to go on with her life so instead of dealing with her pain, she committed suicide. She was then sent to a dark, dreary, murky place to suffer for her selfish action...hell. Now would you want to suffer eternally in hell or suffer just a few measly years on earth? Years on earth are nothing compared to eternity.
Another important issue that needs to be considered is the financial aspect of assisted suicide. Dr. Kevorkian claims that organized medicine and pharmaceutical industries are against euthanasia because of the money involved. Let's look at Alzheimer's disease for example. Alzheimer's is a terminal disease because it reduces your life span and eventually you will become a vegetable. There are four million Alzheimer's cases every year in the U.S. Now let's say that one out of ten of these people decides to terminate their life before the illness progress further. This means that 400,000 people will not be living in the nursing homes. Now let's just say that the nursing homes costs about $30,000.00 per year; use this number and multiply it by the number of people who commit suicide. The outcome will be millions of dollars that organized medicine is not willing to lose, not to mention the millions of dollars that the people would have spent on medication alone. This is a lot of money. These organizations will lose all this money just for one disease (Kevorkian,3).
Dying is a part of living. Some people are lucky enough to live long fruitful lives. Others are not so lucky, death came knocking and they unknowingly opened the door. The truth of this matter is that death and dying can happen at any point in one's life. A baby being aborted before birth, a child killed at one year old, a child killed at two years old, all the way up to the world record 122 years old. This woman in France just recently died at the age of 122 could be considered cool in avoiding the grim reaper for so long. But can a five year old playing in the streets who is killed by a drunk driver be considered unlucky. Death is natural. If I am terminally ill, does any one have the right to make me continue to suffer? Dr. Kevorkian is not a criminal and should not be treated so. If he were to be incarcerated and if a law did pass stating physician assisted suicide is illegal, will euthanasia stop? I don't think so!
People die daily. If we develop medicines to prolong life, then why are we so against taking life? Like any controversial argument there are two sides, one for it and one against it. We are simple people who roam this Earth. While wandering about aimlessly we need to follow guidelines set by others. These guidelines or laws are here for our own protection. Physician assisted suicide is not against the law. There are no statues or laws that prohibit it. So in my case, I will continue to wear underwear on my head. When a law is passed prohibiting wearing one's own underwear in place of caps, then and only then will I cease to do it. The same could be said for what Dr. Kevorkian is doing, it is not illegal. So lets all give a round of applause for the line of work he is in.
Landers, Alison; Siegel, Mark A.; Foster, Carol D., eds. Death and Dying-Who Decides? Texas: Information Plus, 1994.
McCuen, Gary E. Doctor Assissted Suicide and the Euthanasia Movement. Wisconsin: Gary E. E McCuen Publications, 1994.
Trubo, Richard. An Act of Mercy: Euthanasia Today. Los Angeles: Nash Publishing, 1973.
Wennberg, Robert N. Terminal Choices. Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989.