ethanasia research paper

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Adebayo Adedeji
Professor Snodgrass
EGL 1010
Euthanasia: a Moral Good or Evil
The debate over euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide is a multifaceted issue that surges throughout political, religious, legal, and social circles. Euthanasia comes from the Greek words, Eu (good) and Thanatosis (death) and it means "Good Death, "Gentle and Easy Death." This word has come to be as a term for "mercy killing" or assisted suicide. The Medical dictionary defines euthanasia as a deliberate ending of life of a person suffering from an incurable disease. The history of euthanasia can be traced back to 400 B.C in ancient Greece and Rome. The majority of Spartans and Athenians believed that in order to make the state fit and functional, those who were ill, elderly, or deformed could end their lives or have others end it for them (Emanuel, 1994). Although most physicians saw it as a breach to the “Hippocratic Oath” which states that “...never (to) give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor…make a suggestion to this effect” the Roman and Greece leaders saw it on the otherhand, as a way to building a prefect society (Emmanuel, 1994). During the late 19th century the discovery of anesthetics (morphine, ether, and chloroform) facilitated the practice of voluntary and involuntary euthanasia by countries such as Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium and Albania.( Keown 2002). Though many continued to push for euthanasia, its opposition gained momentum with the outbreak of World War II and the discovery of Nazi death camps. The German Euthanasia Program began two full years before the outbreak of the war as a way to get rid of the non-Aryans and to purify the German race by means of involuntary euthanasia of individuals who had physical, emotional, or mental disabilities (Westendorf, 2008).

The 20th century marked the formation of several organizations for addressing the concerns regarding euthanasia. In the U.S, the issue of euthanasia started to draw national and international attention as a result of cases like Dr. Haiselden who allowed a deformed baby to die rather than give it possibly lifesaving surgery. Another case was a 21-year-old Karen Ann Quinlan had fallen into an irreversible coma at a party in 1974. After doctors declared that she was in a "persistent vegetative state," her parents went to court to have her respirator removed. The New Jersey Supreme Court rules in 1976 that Karen Quinlan can be detached from her respirator. In November 1994, Oregon voters approved the Death with Dignity Act (DWDA) by a vote of 51% to 49%. It became effective in 1998, surviving court challenges and a repeal effort, to make Oregon the first state in the country to legalize physician-assisted suicide (PAS) (Enouen 2012). Washington in November 2008 became the second state to legalize physician-assisted suicide and Montana became the third in 2009. However, in 1999, euthanasia became a public issue, with the imprisonment of Dr. Jack Kevorkian for conducting voluntary euthanasia on Thomas Youk (52), who was in the final stage of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Kevorkian was charged with second-degree murder, and he served eight years in prison (from 1999 to 2007). It was claimed that he had exercised euthanasia for at least 130 other patients (in this case, patients took lethal injections themselves). The practice of euthanasia has occupied the minds of scholars, philosophers, and researchers on the basis of its morality but not withstanding the merits associated with its existence, legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide places many people at risk, affects the values of society over time, and does not provide controls and safeguards. Hypothesis One of the reasons why euthanasia or assisted suicide should be repealed is the slippery slope effect. The “slippery slope” argument, a complex legal and philosophical...