Euthanasia: Immoral or Merciful?

Essay by triloGyHigh School, 12th grade September 2006

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Many hot topics regarding morale obtain an ever-growing presence in mainstream media; euthanasia is one of the most controversial. Euthanasia is classified by the Webster's Dictionary as 'the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, a person or animal suffering from an incurable, esp. a painful, disease or condition.' In his paper, "Voluntary Active Euthanasia" (1992), Dan W. Brock looks at the arguments for and against the legalization of active euthanasia. In his view, an individuals well-being and control over his or her future, far outweighs any impact it may or may not have on society in general. I strongly agree with his arguments and will add some of my own.

Brock's first and probably most important argument is the individual's right in self-determination. People have an inherent right in making "important decisions about their lives for themselves according to their own values or conceptions of a good life, and in being left free to act on these decisions".

This view allows people to take responsibility over their own lives as long as the individual has some minimum decision making abilities. "It allows patients near death to maintain the quality of one's life, avoid great suffering, maintain dignity, and insure that other's will us as we wish them to. This outweighs merely extending one's life. When it comes to life, quality is more important than quantity. Brock's other argument for supporting euthanasia is the value of a person's well-being. The patient's well-being seems to be at odds with self-determination when requesting euthanasia. But when a patient decides that the best life for him/her with the best treatment is still of very poor quality, than it may be worse than no life at all. Life no longer holds any promise...