Euthanasia: A Consideration of Legal Practice

Essay by david4College, UndergraduateA, September 2009

download word file, 12 pages 5.0

As Americans [of the past and in today's society], we all have been brought up to believe in human rights, basic rights that any person has from the moment s/he is birthed into this world. Most of these rights serve to better the quality of human life. The controversial issue of the medical practice euthanasia, or physician-assisted suicide, is not only a matter of rights, but a matter of legality and morality. Euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide should be legalized in the United States, with very strict rules and proceedings, to give people their right to die in extreme circumstances.

In order to understand and differentiate between the instances in which euthanasia could be used, one must know the meaning of the legal terms. Euthanasia, from David Thomasama's perspective in Asking to Die: Inside the Dutch Debate about Euthanasia, is defined as intentionally taking the life of another person upon his or her explicit request (24).

However, this common definition, does not include the taking a life out of mercy or compassion for a suffering individual (Thomasma 24). The three clearly defined types of euthanasia are voluntary-active, non-voluntary, and passive. Voluntary-active euthanasia is an instance where an individual, completely and mentally aware of the situation, makes a voluntary request for death. This could be a person who is disabled without any mobility or a severely terminally ill patient with so little left to live. On the opposite end of the spectrum is non-voluntary euthanasia, a situation that a person who is facing an unavoidable death cannot state decision. The inability to make this decision stems from issues of the brain (brain damage and being mentally unstable) and being in a state of unconsciousness such as a coma. In the middle is passive euthanasia, which can occur by letting someone die naturally...