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Eugenics To Euthanasia Essay

1023 words - 5 pages

Eugenics To Euthanasia


This essay presents the appeal which euthanasia has to modern society. What is this appeal based on? Is it a valid appeal? These and other questions are addressed in this paper.

See if this story sounds familiar: A happily married couple - she is a pianist; he a rising scientist - have their love suddenly tested by a decline in the wife's health. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she falls victim to a steady loss of muscle control and paralysis. The desperate husband uses all his professional skills to save her. But ultimately he must watch her deteriorate in hideous pain. The wife worries that she will soon no longer be "a person anymore - just a ...view middle of the document...

Obviously, America today is not Germany in 1941. Americans have a practical sense of justice that favors the weak and the little guy. But if we want to keep it that way, we shouldn't assume that merely knowing about a past tragedy prevents us from repeating it. We need to learn from history. And in reflecting on physician-assisted suicide, the first lesson for our lawmakers is that any killing motivated by a distorted sense of mercy - no matter how many reasonable and honeyed words endorse it - leads to killing that has nothing at all to do with the best interests of those killed.

First, every one of us fears the image of a dying patient stripped of dignity and trapped in a suffering body. But today, no one needs to suffer excruciating pain in a terminal illness. Modern pain-suppression drugs can ensure the comfort of persons even in the final stages of dying. Hospice care, focused on ensuring a natural death with comfort and dignity, is increasingly available. It's true that some doctors underprescribe pain medication or seek to artificially prolong life beyond reasonable hope of recovery. But that is an issue of training. Patients have the right to decline extraordinary means of treatment. They also have a right to be free of mind-numbing pain. Both these goals can be accomplished without killing them.

Second, terminally ill persons seeking doctor-assisted suicide usually struggle with depression, guilt, anger, and a loss of meaning. They need to be reassured that their lives and their suffering have purpose. They don't need to be helped toward the exit. We should also remember that in helping the terminally ill to kill themselves, we're colluding not only in their dehumanization, but our own. Moreover, the notion that suffering is always evil and should be avoided at all costs is a very peculiar idea. Six thousand years of Judeo-Christian wisdom show that suffering can be - and often is - redemptive, both for the person who suffers and for the family and friends of the one in need. In any case, it is very odd to try...

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