The fundamental question about euthanasia: Whether it is a libertarian movement for human freedom and the right of choice, or an aggressive drive to exterminate the weak, the old, and the different, this question can now be answered. It is both. (Richard Fenigsen, Dutch cardiologist) After going through a car wreck in 1966, “upcoming home queen Carol Dusold had been comatose, with limbs contorted, her weight dropping to only sixty-five pounds”(Filene, 75).
In the case of any parent watching their daughter go through such an ordeal would devastate them to the point of giving up, but for her mother she held on to the hope that her daughter would return. Doctors, physicians and many others tried to convince her to give up hope and pull the plug to end her daughter’s life. Not budging and unconvinced with their pleading Carol’s mother held fast to her hope. “Four months after the accident, Carol revived. During the next eight years she rehabilitated, married and had a son, with only a limp and mildly slurred speech to show for her ordeal” (Filene, 75).
Stories like Carol’s roam the realms of the heated discussions of euthanasia that rattle many of our medical discussions. The questions about legalizing euthanasia run deep in human history. It has troubled and brought a lot of anguish to the generations from the past and present and, will continue puzzling those to come. Euthanasia-in others words called “mercy killing”- came from the Greek origin “easy death” or “good death”. In the past euthanasia was viewed very differently than it is interpreted in today’s society.
Euthanasia used to signify the ending of a person’s suffering and pain, but after war world two the Nazis used this term to cover up the deaths of thousands of deaths of those that were deemed unfit to society. Fear that the same excuse will be reused once more for the unexcused killing of innocent lives should stop the legalizing of euthanasia. Legalizing euthanasia is morally wrong; it causes hastened decisions to be made by families and doctors on ending patients’ lives; and it would lead to misuse and the deaths of innocent people.
Also, in the end, killing a person is never justifiable. The morals of morality were laid out by humans to help prevent acts of evil from rampaging throughout the world. Common well known morals such as rape and murder are revered as unacceptable actions and are severely punishable. Many of the morals that humans have held dear to themselves are those that help preserve human life and sanctity. By allowing euthanasia to be legalized people are breaking away from that sanctity and the preservation of human life.
Many people would argue that part of the human right is the choice to die. But it could easily be argued that if it is the human right to choose when to die why were there so many technological and medical advances to protect human life to begin with. In 1847, “the newly formed American Medical Association…called upon doctors to comfort but, whenever possible, to also revive” (Filene, 3) patients that were ill or in a state of pain. The doctors were “the minister of hope and comfort to the sick” (Filene, 3) rather than the minister of death.
The beginning of early twentieth century was when most morals of the killing of the terminally ill, assuring a peaceful passing, went from being an action that concerned the welfare of the patient to the sole decision of the physician. It was said that, “the physician who could not save the life should end it” (Filene, 5). The prolonging of human life was no longer the main motive to help patients, it was the concept of whether the physician could save the life or not. With morality out of the picture, everyone began looking and focusing on his/her own interests in the life of the patient.
As the perception of death changed for the worse in our societies, the way we dealt with death also changed. Death, for those who are incapable of expressing their own feelings and thoughts, laid in the hands of those who claimed to have their interests in mind-their families and their physicians. Human beings are usually impatient and want results to occur immediately rather than over a long period of time. Hence, the reason why so many family members can’t bear to watch their loved one go through-what they suppose- is excruciating pain.
A rare example of true determination and hope, are the mother of Carol Dulson and Ron Houben’s parents, who believed that both Carol and Ron had a chance at living again, despite all the negativity that the two patients wouldn’t make it. The hope that they held fast to, in the end, paid off as Carol woke up from her coma four months after her accident and Ron had a special treatment, after 23 years, revealing that his brain was functioning normally and that he wasn’t in a coma. Doctors and families use euthanasia as a last resort when they’ve given up hope. “Dr.
Laureys (the neurologist who proved Ron’s consciousness) is reported to have said to the Daily Mail in London, In Germany alone each year some 100,000 people suffer from severe traumatic brain injury. About 20,000 are followed by a coma of three weeks or longer. Some of them die, others regain health. But an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people a year remain trapped in an intermediate stage – they go on living without ever coming back again. (Hall) Stories like the one of Ron’s and Carol’s show that despite what the medical field has accomplished the need for hope should overcome the need to end life just because a person doesn’t live normally.
This leads onto another one of my points, the misusage of euthanasia. Looking back at the past, euthanasia was a form of doctor’s easing the painful death into one that was more peaceful. Looking at euthanasia in the present term the result is quite different. During the War World two, the Nazis sought to eliminate people who they deemed unfit in society (the terminally ill, the disabled, the elderly and those not of the Arian Race-the perfect race). By doing this they started with the terminally ill claiming that they were doing them a service by ending their lives “peacefully” but then started targeting the disabled and the elderly.
They didn’t stop there they continued on killing even those that they considered, didn’t fit in the Arian race (blue eyes and blond hair). They used the name euthanasia to justify the wrong action that they committed. In a similar case for those that support euthanasia are well aware of the actions of the Nazis and know that families, physicians and society would in turn use euthanasia to take away the burdens of having to take care of a person deemed unfit in society. Therefore, allowing history to repeat itself once more.
Euthanasia all in all, is an excuse to make murder acceptable. So by legalizing it the human race has gone against its moral values, they have given the upper hand to families and doctors to do as they seemed fit with the patients they saw as “worthless”, and they have accepted the killing of thousands of innocent lives. Many would say that this argument is rather harsh but one could argue that the topic at hand is one that should be taken seriously, as it changed the past and by having it stick around as permissible it could change the future for the worse.