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“The term euthanasia originated from the Greek word for ‘good death’. It is the act or practice of ending the life of a person either by lethal injection or the suspension of medical treatment. Because of this many view euthanasia as simply bringing relief by alleviating pain and suffering” (1). I strongly agree in legalizing euthanasia in our society, and I will be applying the ethical doctrine Utilitarianism to defend my case. Euthanasia minimizes the suffering that affects those involved. Euthanasia is already legal in Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium, and permitted in Switzerland if performed by a non-doctor. In the US, the State of Washington, Montana, and Oregon have already passed laws in support of euthanasia while a recent Gallop poll finds that the vast majority of Americans continue to support “right-to-die” laws for terminally ill patients. The following benefits to legalizing euthanasia are: patients’ are saved from unwanted suffering, free up the nurses and doctors time for savable patients, vital organs can be saved, allowing doctors to save the lives of others, and health care cost would be reduced.
Certain diseases are incurable and result in a slow agonizing death. What is the purpose to suffer endlessly till the body gives out? Imagine what it would be like to spend six months, or more, vomiting, coughing, enduring pain spasms, and suffering psychologically as well. Would it not minimize suffering, for the patient and the family and friends involved, to give the patient the option to say when they had enough? Patients can die with dignity rather than have the illness reduce them to a shell of their former selves, and lessen the suffering of their family and friends. I also believe the right to die should be a fundamental freedom of each person. Nowhere in the constitution does it imply that the government has the right to keep a person from committing suicide. After all, if the patient and the family agree it’s what they want to do, whose business is it anyway? Who else is it going to hurt? In a country that’s supposedly free, this should be a fundamental right.
Furthermore, we face a critical shortage of medical staff in this country right now, especially nurses. Recent studies from the pass five year have confirmed the obvious, that understaffed hospitals make more mistakes and provide lesser quality care. This when considered under the utilitarian doctrine is immoral because it contributes to the overall utility that maximizes the suffering, and the moral goal is to maximize the good overall. Things are only going to get worse as the baby boom generation gets older and life spans increase. Being more productive with the nurses and doctors time, the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people can be achieve, because the quality of care will increase and many lives can be saved with the time that was freed up. In addition to increasing the quality of care in hospitals, Vital organs can also be saved, allowing doctors to save the lives of others.
Euthanasia allows physicians to preserve vital organs that can be donated to others, assuming the patients are organ donors. People in need of organ transplants have long waiting lists to look forward to; for hearts, kidneys, livers, and other organs that are necessary to save the lives of people who can be saved. However, if certain diseases are allowed to run their full course, the organs may weaken or cease to function altogether. Once again, we have to put the needs of the ‘living’ ahead of the needs of the ‘dying’. Finally, healthcare costs will be reduced, which will in turn lower insurance premiums. Consider the huge cost of keeping a dying patient alive for several months.
You must pay for x-rays, lab tests, drugs, medical staff salaries, etc. The overall net worth is monstrously high. It is not unheard of for medical costs to equal $50,000-100,000 to keep some patients alive. We have to ask ourselves, is this the best way to spend our money when the patient himself would like to die? Wouldn’t the money be better spent on the patients that can be saved? Also, consider the drag on a dying patient’s net worth. Most people want to be able to leave their children and grandchildren with something when they die. Medical costs eat into that estate.
As Medicare, and other government programs accelerate the US towards bankruptcy, anything that causes a decrease in total costs must be brought forward for consideration. In conclusion, Euthanasia minimizes the suffering that affects those involved, and should be universally legalized in the US. As I mentioned before patients can die with dignity rather than have the illness reduce them to a shell of their former selves, and lessen the suffering of their family and friends. We can free up the nurses and doctors time for savable patients , and euthanasia allows physicians to preserve vital organs that can be donated to others. Healthcare costs will be reduced, which will in turn lower insurance premiums.