Assisted Suicide: The Pros And Cons Of Euthanasia

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Euthanasia, otherwise known as “mercy killing,” is the act of intentionally ending the life of a person who suffers from an untreatable or incurable condition that typically causes a great deal of pain (“Euthanasia”). The practice has been a contentious legal issue in the United States ever since Oregon enacted the Oregon Death with Dignity act in 1997, legalizing physician aided death (“Oregon”). To be more specific, the act permits physicians to prescribe treatment that will result in the death of a patient, if the patient requests it. After Oregon passed its act, California, Colorado, Vermont, and Washington followed suit and passed their own legislation legalizing the practice (“History”). To this day, the legality and morality of such…show more content…
Groups belonging to the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, which is—as the name would suggest—a collection of associations in favor of voluntary euthanasia and the right for an individual to choose his death, continue to push for pro-euthanasia legislation. In the past twenty years alone, pro euthanasia groups have managed to legalize physician aided suicide in six U.S. states: California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. In addition, just last year, on February 17, Washington, D.C. also legalized assisted suicide. In December of that same year, Massachusetts decided to take a neutral stance on the issue of euthanasia, a position that is shared by Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, and Nevada. Needless to say, the World Federation of Right to Die Societies has been rather successful…show more content…
In September of last year, the right to die issue made it to the New York Court of Appeals where a panel of five judges all ruled against it. The argument made for the permittance of assisted suicide in this case was actually quite weak. New York passed a law in 1965 directly outlawing assisted suicide, but the appellates’ platform was that a doctor prescribing a lethal dose of medication is not actually assisted suicide and is therefore not in disagreement with the law. The judges immediately recognized that this was not remotely true since if the intention of a doctor is specifically to cause a patient's death then regardless of the method, it is assisted death. The judges went even further and actually denounced euthanasia itself. For example, Judge Fahey said “Legalizing physician-assisted suicide would convey a societal value judgment that such ‘indignities’ as physical vulnerability and dependence mean that life no longer has any intrinsic value . .” The state of New York—being one of the most densely packed states—drew quite a bit of attention when presented with the issue and then expressed a very firm stance against permitting assisted suicide practices. Ideally for anti-euthanasia groups, this will serve as encouragement for other states to not yield to right to die organizations (Doerflinger).
The debate about the legality and
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