March 31, 1976 was the day the New Jersey Supreme Court gave the parents of Kathleen Quinland, a young comatose woman, permission to take her off of life support systems. This is the day which is believed to be the birth of the modern right-to-die movement. Euthanasia, commonly known as mercy killing, is a way to end the agony of those who are suffering from terminal illnesses and should be legalized instead of having to be preformed in secrecy.
The medical and ethical concerns focus on the health care delivery system as it impacts end-of-life decisions. There are three categories that this can be broken into. They are the quality of life, how decisions at the end of life are made, and the physician’s changing role in end-of-life actions (Roberts, 22).
The quality of life is constantly being redefined. The courts now support an individualistic approach to euthanasia, rather than imposing a society-wide prescription to what they feel constitutes the quality of one’s life. Since the quality of life can only be determined by the individual, directives allow individuals, or should they become incompetent, their families to express their preferences (Roberts, 23).
Because only the individual or their families can decide what that particular persons quality is they should have the right to choose if euthanasia is an option. For those who suffer from terminal illnesses, euthanasia would be a way to escape from intolerable pain that cannot be alleviated by pain relieving drugs (Minois, 131).
However those who oppose euthanasia believe that if a person has a terminal illness that person should not be assisted in death and should have as much aid in staying alive as possible. They believe that as long as the brain is …
… would also give people a chance to say goodbye to their loved ones. Terminally ill persons, if they wish to choose euthanasia, would be able to stop the pain that medications cannot alleviate. And it would also give a person a little piece of mind.
Battin, Margaret P., Rosamond Rhodes, and Anita Silvers, eds. Physician Assisted Suicide: Expanding the Debate. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Larue, Gerald A. Playing God: 50 Religions Views on Your Right to Die. Wakefield, Rhode Island: Moyer Bell, 1996.
Minois, Georges. History of Suicide: Voluntary Death in Western Culture. Baltimore and London, Johns Hopkins UP, 1999.
Roberts, Carolyn and Martha Gorman. Euthanasia. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 1996.
Woodman, Sue. Last Rights: The Struggle over the Right to Die. New York and London:Plenum Trade, 1998.