Coma. Paralysis. Inoperable cancer. Alzheimer's disease. Permanent brain damage. Severely handicapped newborn. Terminal condition. Some of us face these dreaded circumstances ourselves or in the lives of our loved ones. How do we respond?
For hundreds of years assisted suicide has been an issue, but with the rise of modern technology, never before has it been a more controversial issue. The issue of euthanasia raises many questions that have still not yet been soundly answered. When is it right to die? Who gets to decide? Each person has his own moral convictions; therefore, each person has his own answer to a terminal situation.
What is the definition of euthanasia? Many definitions are given, but which is the most accurate? Much terminology is used to make euthanasia sound like an act of compassion and gentleness, something good. Some refer to euthanasia as mercy killing or death with dignity. One definition for euthanasia is, "the putting of a person to death painlessly" (Bender 24).
Does the fact that the death is painless justify the act? This ambiguity justifies Hitler's putting to death the Jews in the gas chambers. Was this act of his just euthanasia? The death of the Jews was painless and merciful in that it got them out of their misery, but Hitler's act is not being justified. That was homicide. Is euthanasia just murder also? For the purpose of this paper, the definition of euthanasia will be, "to produce death or assist an individual in achieving death because others, or even the patient himself, considers life no longer worth living. The motive is usually to relieve suffering, save money, or do away with the indignities associated with dying" (Tada 58).
Is euthanasia ethical? Two different kinds of euthanasia can be chosen: active or passive. Active euthanasia is mercy killing...