Right to die - Social Movements

Essay by jessicaseabrook April 2006

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Discuss the "right to die" debate. How has modern technology created this debate in the first place? What are the arguments for legal euthanasia? What are the arguments against it? Which side do you find more compelling? Why?

Sociologists have developed a number of theoretical explanations of social movements. Identify the six theoretical approaches noted in the text and provide an account of each. What do we learn from each? What criticism can be made of each? On the basis of this material, do you think we have developed an adequate understanding of social movements? Why or why not?

With advances in medical technology today, people are living longer for some this has been a great improvement but for some it just has prolonged the inevitable.

Machines have been replacing what nature gave us, Hearts and lungs have been replaced when our bodies can no longer provide this function for us.

This brings us to the debate over the right to die.

(Excerpt is from the U. S. Supreme Court ruling in the 1997 Washington v. Glucksberg - opinion written by Chief Justice Rehnquist.)

Though deeply rooted, the States' assisted suicide bans have in recent years been reexamined and, generally, reaffirmed. Because of advances in medicine and technology, Americans today are increasingly likely to die in institutions, from chronic illnesses. President's Comm'n for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research, Deciding to Forego Life Sustaining Treatment 16-18 (1983). Public concern and democratic action are therefore sharply focused on how best to protect dignity and independence at the end of life, with the result that there have been many significant changes in state laws and in the attitudes these laws reflect. Many States, for example, now permit "living wills," surrogate health care decision making, and...