Essay about Active Euthanasia, Free Will and Autonomy

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Active Euthanasia, Free Will and Autonomy

"Medicine in the hands of a fool has always been poison and death." -C. J. Jung

Euthanasia, from the Greek, quite literally means "the good death." Advocates of euthanasia, offer it as a solution for the emotional, psychological and physiologic suffering of terminally ill patients. The type of euthanasia, which is presently under debate, is called "active euthanasia" and is defined as an act performed by an individual to bring about the death of another person. Advocates for euthanasia represent "the good death" as a welcome alternative to "the miserable life." However, euthanasia is not actively practiced because law precludes it.

Indeed, three benchmark ancient texts constitute the authority for human institutions of western civilization which prohibit the practice of euthanasia. The ancient legal code of Hammurabi, the Mosaic texts of the Judeo-Christian ethical tradition and The Hippocratic Oath handed down from ancient Greece, all have provisional language forbidding the practice of active euthanasia. Thus, organized disciplines of modern society, namely organized medicine, as well as the judicial and legislative bodies, which were constituted upon the ethical traditions of Western Civilization by longstanding convention, forbid the practice of active euthanasia on moral and ethical grounds. Quite simply, one human being shall not kill another. This is the command that has been handed down to humanity, so many millennia ago.

Presently, the global community is faced with an ethical crisis, as the institutionalization of euthanasia is actively explored in several member nations; namely, Netherlands and Australia. Evangelium Vitae, an encyclical doc...

... middle of paper ... progeny and society as a whole.

However, the suffering of one individual should not mandate an institutional protocol of medication for the multitude. When the exercise of free will and autonomy is lost for a populace, and particularly in the sphere of not being able to choose to live, this constitutes a political menace upon it.


Horgan, J. (1997), Seeking a better way to die. Scientific American, May, 100-104.

Jung, C. J., (1921), Psychological Types, (1st ed.). Princeton University Press. 138,257.

Kant, I.(1797), Critique of Pure Reason, (2nd ed.). New York, The Humanities Press. 464-465.

Mohler, R.A. (1997) The culture of death and the gospel of life: an evangelical response to Evangelicum Vitae, Ethics and Medicine. 13:1,3.

Paris, J. J. (1997) Autonomy and physician-assisted suicide. America.176:17, 11.

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