Euthanasia, a big debate in America

Essay by Laura2University, Bachelor'sA+, November 1996

download word file, 6 pages 3.8

Downloaded 402 times

There has been much debate in recent American society over the legality and morality of a

patients right-to-die. Current legal statue prohibits any form of euthanasia, however, there

are many moral and ethical dilemmas concerning the controversy. For the purposes of this

essay, I will define euthanasia as the implementation of a decision that a person's life will

come to an end before it need stop. In other words, it is a life ending when it would

otherwise be prolonged. There is an important distinction between voluntary euthanasia

where the decision to terminate life coincides with the individuals wishes and involuntary

euthanasia where the individual concerned does not know about the decision and has not

approved it in advance. I will be dealing specifically with the concept of voluntary

euthanasia, for it seems intuitive that involuntary euthanasia is not only illegal but also

profoundly immoral. Opponents arguments against euthanasia which fail to substantiate

their claims, many proponents arguments highlighted by the right to autonomy, and

empirical examples of legalized euthanasia all prove the moral legitimacy of physician-


Opponents of euthanasia generally point to three main arguments which I will

mention only for the purposes of refuting them. First, many cite the Hippocratic oath

which reads, 'I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such

counsel' as a reason to oppose euthanasia. Clearly, the Hippocratic oath does condemn

the practice, however, I do not find this as reason enough to reject the moral permissibility

of euthanasia. If the premise of the oath is flawed (i.e., if it is morally permissible for a

physician to assist in suicide), then a physician should not be prohibited from assisting in

suicide simply because of an oath. Indeed, if it is proven (as will be done later in this...