The Right to Die in Accordance With the Ideals of Thomas Jefferson

Essay by surf100College, UndergraduateB, April 2007

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Thomas Jefferson is most commonly known for becoming the third President of the United States. He argued forcefully for liberty, protection of inalienable rights, and strict adherence to the Constitution. Jefferson's central ideal was that government has only delegated powers, not inherent or intrinsic authority. Today it seems Americans have more rights than ever before and with this new freedom, there are those that want these rights extended to controlling death. The issue concerning the legalization of physician-assisted suicide is one Americans face today. Physician-assisted suicide should not be legalized because it violates Jefferson's principles: strict observance to the Constitution and maintaining a high level of morals within society.

Many argue that because men are entitled to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" they are also entitled to "a right to die." Jefferson stated, "On every question of construction, [let us] carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed" (Bendini 32).

The Constitution does not define anyone a "right to die" but it does establish a "right to live." Man was given the right to live when born and only has the "right to die" in the circumstance that death will come by natural causes (Battin, Rhodes, Silvers 166-168). Dying is not a freedom of choice because all will eventually die. A right is a privilege, something that must be earned. Death does not need to be earned; it is simply given. When our Constitution was first established, it was assumed that the description of specific powers granted to the government would leave no doubt as to what the government could and...