Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Acts of mercy. By: Mackenzie race. What is euthanasia and assisted suicide?. Euthanasia is the administration of lethal medicine to a patient in order to end life.
By: Mackenzie race
Euthanasia and assisted suicide is legal in one state, Oregon. In 1994 the Death with Dignity act was passed legalizing assisted suicide to those who meet the qualifications.
The difference between these two terms is that killing is seen as socially unacceptable, while letting a patient die is seen as a physician in care dutifully respecting the patient’s wishes. Killing is the direct cause of the death, while letting die is letting the underlying disease kill
In the first case, Smith stands to gain a large inheritance if anything should happen to his six-year-old cousin. One evening while the child is taking his bath, Smith sneaks into the bathroom, drowns the child, and arranges things so that it will look like an accident.
In the second case, Jones also stands to gain if anything should happen to his six-year-old cousin. Like Smith, Jones sneaks in, planning to drown the child in his bath. However, as he enters the bathroom Jones sees the child slip, hit his head and fall face down into the water. Jones is delighted; he stands by, ready to push the child’s head back under if necessary, but it is not necessary. With only a little thrashing about, the child drowns all by himself, “accidently,” as Jones watches and does nothing.
Smith killed the child, while Jones merely let the child die. That is the only difference between the two cases. Did either man behave better than the other, from a moral point of view?
“People have an interest in making important decisions about their lives in accordance with their own conception of how they want their lives to go. In exercising autonomy or self-determination, people take responsibility for their lives; since dying is a part of life, choices about the manner of their dying and the timing of their death are, for many people, part of what is involved in taking responsibility for their lives. Many people are concerned about what the last phase of their lives will be life, not merely because of fears that their dying might involve them in great suffering, but also because the desire to retain dignity and as much control over their lives as possible during this phase... There is no single, objectively correct answer as to when, if at all, life becomes an burden and unwanted. But that simply points up the importance of individuals being able to decide autonomously for themselves whether their own lives retain sufficient quality and dignity to make life worth living.”
Robert Young, “Voluntary Euthanasia,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philiosophy(winter 2007), ed. Edward N. Zalta