I’m sorry that I haven’t been updating but it’s been crazy.
Joshua was able to get the short cast on this week, so he now has a waterproof blue cast. I was more excited than he was. That is that I was over excited, not that he wasn’t excited enough. We can finally go enjoy family water activities and there will be no more whining! Yeah!
We had a great fourth. We watched the parade for several hours and the kids enjoyed all the freebies. Too bad tootles didn’t have such a good time. I’ll admit, we asked for a larger ball because the little one was a choking hazard, but we asked nicely, I swear. And we didn’t put our hands anywhere near her pockets. Unfortunately I can’t find a link to the story about poor Tootles, who was attacked during the parade by grandparents wanting balls. Her cart was ransacked and people were digging through her pockets! Wow!
We also went to the fair and watched the paratroopers arrive. Joshua had his picture taken with a huge boa constrictor, against my motherly advice. He reasoned that they are well trained. I explained that children are well trained, but still disobey sometime. When a snake is having a bad day and disobeys, someone dies!
Later in the day we had many friends over for a cookout. We had a blast and even played Left, Right, Center. Fun! To top off our exhaustion we went up the college to watch the fireworks. The sky was much too cloudy so we watched the children run around with their glow sticks instead. There were 8 kids in our party and they created quite a scene.
I am so close to being done with classes. I have one more speech to give on Monday and then I am FREE! Matthew has been having an awful time separating from me since he was sick so it has been very hard for both of us. He is very happy at daycare and still wants to go, but the separating is hell. He is the paper for my sociology class for your reading pleasure. Enjoy. It will probably get all wonky and unformatted when I post it.
Running Head: Euthanasia
Euthanasia: A Basic Human Right
Kennebec Valley Community College
Basic human rights; what exactly does this mean? Our country was founded on the unalienable rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Does the right to life include deciding when to end it and having the ability to do so? Does the right to the pursuit of happiness include the right to happily choose death? I would argue that indeed it does. It is a basic human right to decide to be done living. It is a basic human right to have the power to end your suffering, ease your fears, and maintain your dignity with assisted suicide, or active euthanasia.
In the United States there has always been some desire for euthanasia but formal efforts to legalize euthanasia couldn’t have come at a worse time. Legislation attempts in Ohio and New York failed shortly before the beginning of World War Two. The eugenics and horrendous murder of the war still fresh in everyone’s mind made it difficult for people to separate the known horrors of the war and termination of “useless” lives with the movement to allow people freedom and control regarding death. It was too easy to lump together the idea of killing with sanctioning the right to die.
Today in the United States there continues to be enough opposition for allowing people to choose when they are ready to end their lives such that Oregon is the only state that allows for physician-assisted suicide. While other states have attempted to pass legislation allowing for euthanasia they have all failed by narrow margins. It is interesting to note however that public opinion polls have consistently shown that a large majority of Americans support legalized euthanasia.
The one thing that humans have in common is that we will all face death. Every one of us will someday die; it is inevitable. Why then does prolonging death seem so important to some? The opposition to euthanasia seems to be rooted in a belief that God alone has the right to decide when one’s life is done and God alone the has power to end it. Where does this leave people who don’t share a belief in God, and people whose belief in God leads them to conclude differently? Most people who have a faith in God believe that humans were created in God’s image and God himself wants humans to have free will. I believe that this free will should extend into choosing euthanasia. It is not right to impose what amounts to a religious outlook to every citizen regardless of each persons belief system. “This rights view of the wrongness of killing in not, of course universally shared. Many people’s moral views about killing have their origins in religious views that human life comes from God and cannot be justifiably destroyed or taken away, either by the person who’s life it is or by another. But in a pluralistic society like our own with a strong commitment to freedom of religion, public policy should not be grounded in religion beliefs which many in that society reject.” (Brock 1992). No one has a greater interest in an individual’s life than the individuals themselves. Because there is no single correct and universal answer for everyone about how their life should end and what part religion and belief will play in determining that end everyone should be able to use their own judgment about the value of their life. In a presumably free country everyone should have the ultimate freedom to act on whatever they believe to be the most satisfying outcome and end to their life. Most people do not think twice about the morality of keeping people alive by artificial means, but thinking about the ethics of interfering with life the same moral argument could apply.
A great many people fear death. For the majority of people this fear is based on two things, fear of the unknown, and fear of loosing control. There is very little that we can do for people regarding fear of the unknown. Some profess to know the answers to life after death but the reality is that we cannot know what may or may not happen when our bodies stop functioning. We can not yet provide concrete answers about the existence of an afterlife, but we can nevertheless offer people some measure of control by allowing them to choose their environment through services such as hospice, providing as much pain medication as the person may want, regardless of it’s sedative or addictive nature, and allowing them to choose the time and means of their death.
Self-determination is something that most individuals highly value. Dignity is rooted in the ability to self-direct. The fear of death that consumes people is usually related to a loss of control. Allowing people to have control over the time and means of the end of their life could eliminate some of that fear and allow people to maintain their sense of dignity. It is callous and heartless to force people to stay alive when they prefer death. “Euthanasia is more humane than forcing patients to continue a life of unmitigated suffering.” (Paris 1992)
I personally find it fascinating that in our culture we provide these services to our pets on a regular basis. If a dog is injured the owner will provide pain relief, and if the animal’s condition is grave or becomes terminal the owner has the option of providing euthanasia, or as it is more commonly referred, “putting down.” It seems very humane to hold the animal, tell it that you care about it, and then administer a lethal injection to end it’s suffering. The humanity of such an act is rarely called into question. Why then is it so hard to make the leap to do the same for a human who requests it?
Imagine if you will that you are coming to the end of your life. Perhaps you have a terminal illness (we could easily argue that life is in itself a terminal illness!) and know that you will not live out the year. Your pain has become unmanageable and your mind is deteriorating daily. Your family is struggling to care for you and it perhaps it breaks your heart to see them suffering over you impeding death. You are aware that you are dying, you have satisfied your commitments, made peace with your relationships and you are ready to leave your earthly existence behind. Possibly your quality of life has deteriorated to such a point that it is painful emotionally to remain alive. What would the benefit be of prolonging the end? Human beings should be afforded the freedom to decide that their life is complete, by using whatever criteria the individual deems important. “Because no one is good enough to judge someone else’s quality of life.” (De Haan 2002)
A common opposition to euthanasia is the “slippery slope” fear that once we start allowing physicians to assist people in death that we will then begin to justify the killing of patients whose care is too costly or even to the eventual justification of murder. With euthanasia we are not talking about murder, of providing lethal injections to those who reject them, but of people who are dying and requesting the assistance of euthanasia with that process. Euthanasia is about empowering every person to make decisions for themselves.
There is concern that assisted suicide would only be used by people lacking in heath care or whose financial situations make it difficult for their families to provide for their care, but in 1991, of the 27 people who used the assisted suicide law in Oregon to help end their suffering, all had heath insurance. None had concerns about poor heath care. “Persons who chose physician-assisted suicide were primarily concerned about personal autonomy and control over the manner in which they died” (Hedberg, cited in Lancet 1999 p.1). We are speaking here of people who are clearly competent, making a fully voluntary and persistent request for help in ending their life. People who are using their self-determination to make informed decisions and taking charge of their life and the circumstances of their deaths.
With euthanasia we are not thinking about murder, or ending lives of people who can’t request termination. We are not talking about taking people off of life support, or pushing people to end their life any sooner than they choose. Euthanasia is not about hurting people or taking away their power. Euthanasia is all about compassion for fellow humans. Euthanasia is kind and caring and euthanasia should be available for our loved ones in the same way that it is for our pets. Euthanasia is humane, moral, and should be available to any human who requests it.
Brock, D (1992). Voluntary Active Euthanasia. Hastings Center Report, 22(2), 13 Retrieved June 12, 2006 from Academic Search Premier database.
De Haan, J (2002). The Ethics of euthanasia: Advocates’ perspectives. Bioethics, 16(2), 19. Retrieved May 30, 2006 from Academic Search Premier database.
Gates, T (1997). Euthanasia and assisted suicide: A family practice perspective. American Family Physician, 55(7), 5. Retrieved June 12, 2006 from Academic Search Premiere database.
Hurst, S.A. (2006). The ethics of palliative care and euthanasia: exploring common values. Palliative Medicine 20(2), 6. Retrieved May 30, 2006 from Academic Search Premier database.
Materstvedt, LJ (2002). Euthanasia and physician assisted suicide in Scandinavia. Palliative Medicine 16(1), 16. Retrieved May 30, 2006 from Academic Search Premier database.
Oregon suicide law used by 27 people (2002). Christian Century 117(9), 3. Retrieved June 12, 2006 from Academic Search Premier.
Paris, J (1992). Active Euthanasia. Theological Studies, 53(1), 14. Retrieved June 12, 2006 from Academic Search Premier database.
Pollard, B (2001). Can euthanasia be safely legalized? Palliative Medicine, 15(3), 4. Retrieved June 12, 2006 from Academic Search Premiere database.
Rovner, J (1999). Oregon’s assisted-suicide law rarely used. Lancet, 353(9155), 3. Retrieved June 12, 2006 from Academic Search Premier database.