Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

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Introduction

The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution states that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. Although the right of life, liberty, and property are guaranteed, the right to die is not. Due to the absence of this right, the debate on whether assisted suicide and euthanasia should be legal has been carried out for decades. The Constitution guarantees us a generous amount of inalienable rights.

These rights include freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. With an abundance of personal freedoms and rights, should those in suffering be allowed to prematurely put their physical and mental torment to an end? Throughout this essay, I will define the concepts of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, provide background information, observations, opposing arguments, and offer my opinion on the subject.

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Background Information

There are varying definitions of euthanasia and assisted suicide. Due to the multiplicity of definitions offered for the two concepts of euthanasia and assisted suicide, many arguments over the legality and moral soundness of both are presented. Despite the similarity between the two concepts, there is one useful distinction between the both of them. Euthanasia allows a physician to end a patient’s life in a painless manner, if granted permission by the patient and their family. In this case, the sole responsibility is put on the physician to bring the patient’s life to an end. Euthanasia is also broken down into two classifications.

There is voluntary versus involuntary and passive versus active. Voluntary euthanasia is conducted with consent from the patient but involuntary euthanasia is conducted with the consent of someone else, such as a close family member, because the patient is unable to make the decision. Passive euthanasia is the withholding of life-sustaining treatments in order to speed up the suicidal process. Active euthanasia is the use of lethal substances to end a patient’s life. The practice of active euthanasia is more controversial and brings about arguments of moral, religious, and ethical soundness. Assisted suicide only allows the physician to assist the patient in suicide if it is requested. The patient is most likely supplied with lethal substances which can be self administered. Although there is a distinction between them, they are most commonly argued for or against together.

The concepts of euthanasia and assisted suicide have been argued and debated since the 1800s. The “right to die” movement began to advocate for people’s right to euthanasia and assisted suicide. In 1938, the Euthanasia Society of America was founded in New York. The society lobbied for the acceptance of assisted suicide. In 1975, the ESA changed their name to the Society for the Right to Die. The following year, they had two major successes.

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