11.07.2019 in Law

Euthanasia Essay Sample

Euthanasia is the practice of bringing the life of a person to an end in a way which the person is relieved off from pain and suffering. This practice has been in use in the medical profession as early as the 17th century where Francis Bacon used it to refer to an easy, painless, and non suffering death that made the physical suffering of the body disappears. This was majorly practiced in the medical profession. This would mean physical body pain alleviation as opposed to the spiritual euthanasia which was meant to get ready for spiritual being to die in religion. Euthanasia has sparked a high outcry from all social settings and the practice remains controversial and contentious with the medical sector being taken to task on it (Biggs, 2001).

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The right to life has been safeguarded a lot by civil societies and they ensure that no individual is denied of the right and check carefully on the violation of the right. According to Winokur, & Black, (1992) suicide has been a major cause of death in the United States. Suicide is never a rational decision made by the dead but it is irrational with the society discouraged against. Euthanasia however upholds the practice of suicide with the medical practitioners on the frontline. No one has the right to take the life of another either knowingly or unknowingly since it is precious and unique. The religious community continues to disown the practice of euthanasia and calls for a total ban on the issues that may lead to it. Many societies recommend those who attempt suicide to psychiatric doctors since most see it as abnormal. Legalizing suicide and euthanasia has however been adopted in the medical profession calling for a revolutionary society which should seek to from preventing suffering and adopting change through toleration and assistance (Biggs, 2001).

This paper tackles euthanasia and the public health law in New York and the conflict that it has generated with the religion and the religious, moral, and ethical judgments involved. It tends to explain the social understanding of the law and the implementation difficulties involved. It explains the various conditions that make euthanasia to be enforced such as; Terminal illness, End-of-life care, Abortion, Military mercy killings, and Religious prayers healing. The major question tackled is; Does the matter of Euthanasia in New York State violate individuals rights Law: Public Health Law SS 2989: statute not intended to promote or permit suicide, assisted suicide, euthanasia; nor to be construed to permit agent to consent to any act or omission to which the principle could not consent under law.

Background to the study

Euthanasia came about as an answer to a difficult problem. Increased diseases and the much associated pain created the need for helping patients who could not be cured with the present medication yet they were in much pain and agony. Socially and ethically this practice is not accepted though some tough situation forces one to go through it. Euthanasia was first used in the seventh century as a reference to happy, painless easy death. Usually this procedure is carried out by a physician (McMillan, et al. 1987).

Though at the moment the term euthanasia has a wide range of definition depending on the context in which it’s being referred to. Research has been carried out on the concept in order to determine its legality and social standing in the community basing on moral issues as well as ethical issues. Research about euthanasia has been done successful by use of some methods which include questioners, literature review as well as interviews. Euthanasia has both positive and negative impacts (McMillan, et al. 1987). This paper seeks to find out whether the US law against Euthanasia violates the rights of its citizens or not.


The methods employed in carrying out the research on euthanasia are found in this section. This paper will mainly rely on literature review as the main source of information collection. Other methods which can be of great importance in data collection include surveys, questioners, and interviews among others. The other aspects which are included in this section are the importance of the research as well as the possible limitations.

Aims/Objectives of this research

This research paper is aimed at finding out whether the United States law on euthanasia violates the individual rights of its citizen. Another important aspect about euthanasia is whether it’s supported by the social and ethical beliefs. Some of the objectives of this paper are as below;

  • The effects on euthanasia law on social science
  • The impacts of the US law on euthanasia on the citizen rights
  • The conflicts of the New York state Euthanasia Public Health Law with the religious moral judgments.

The significance of the research

This research paper plays an important role in bringing clarity about the controversies surrounding euthanasia. It will help the world to know whether euthanasia is socially and religiously acceptable or not. It’s important to know the effects of the law in place and religious beliefs on euthanasia because people will be able to make the right decisions basing on the surrounding situation. This research will also enable readers to think critically and judge for themselves whether the decisions that have been made by others on the same were right or not.

The Research Question

In order for the above objects to be met, there is need for answering a few important questions. The main research question is; how does the New York State Euthanasia Public Health Law SS 2989 conflict with the religious moral judgments? The other questions that are essential for collection of the needed information are below.

  • Is the US Euthanasia law supported by social science research?
  • Are the rights of the US citizens infringed or violated by the matter of euthanasia in New YorkState?

Research Limitation

This research paper solely focuses on literature information. Literature review has got its own advantage and disadvantage and this paper is limited to literature review. To overcome the extensive disadvantages associated with this mode of data collection a wide range of literature sources has been used. The usage of many authors and literature sources reduces the biasness of the collected data. According to some authors research design is something that must be done with a lot of care because the objectives of a research paper are well achieved by employing a methodology which is well structured. When the appropriate structure is being designed one needs to bear in mind the relevance of the objectives of the research as well as the procedures which are economical.

Well designed structure of data collection with the objective of proper and effective information gathering plays an important role in qualitative findings. This research will use credible sources to ensure the validity and high standard of the paper. This research paper reviews the relevant information in the published journals that are reviewed in order to conclusively answer the research question.

Euthanasia is intentional denial of life to a dependent person either through intended actions or/and omission for their supposed benefits. This may be done knowingly or unknowingly to the person. When it is done knowingly then it is termed as voluntary euthanasia where the person is called for to be killed. The person gives his/her consent to be killed and his life ended. Where the person has no knowhow of what is to happen then it is non-voluntary. The person is never asked to consent to his/her killing and this may be done against the person’s will for his/her benefit (Rubin, 2007).

When the person has already given his/her verdict not to be killed but is finally killed then this is referred to as involuntary. The individual in this case is killed against his wishes just to give the supposedly gains. Assisted suicide occurs where the person is provided with the information, supervision, and ways to terminate his own life; this may be termed as physician assisted suicide when any medical practitioner provides the assistance. Euthanasia by action includes any intentional action from the medical practitioners such as a lethal injection on the patient that will result to death, whereas euthanasia through omission is where any intentional avoidance or not providing essential and normal care to patients for example letting the patient starve or get thirsty (Marzuk, et al, 1988). In other ways euthanasia can be either passive or active depending on the administration of the death. Passive will involve not administering necessary treatment that the patient use such as; ARV’s and antibiotics

Euthanasia is the act of ending life with an objection of relieving suffering, and anguish. Currently euthanasia is being defined on the basis of philosophy as well as persuasion that can be political. Those who are opposed to the practice view it as death that has been caused by a physician. Those who support euthanasia view it as an easy way of ending physical pain and torture. Euthanasia has been classified into a number of classes (Dyck, 2002). Basically this practice is characterized into three groups basing on the willingness of the patient. For example we have involuntary, voluntary as well as non-voluntary consent. Much debate is in progress on whether involuntary euthanasia should be regarded as killing or euthanasia. Some definitions about euthanasia that has been done do not include the patient on the list of the consent people. The main objective that we are set out to find is whether the New York law on euthanasia infringes with its citizens right and whether this practice is morally and religiously acceptable (Dyck, 2002).

Experts refer to euthanasia as a voluntary action. That is the reason why medics define euthanasia as a voluntary killing. Voluntary euthanasia is legalized in a few states including Washington and Oregon states of the US. In non voluntary euthanasia the consent of the patients is not needed. A good example of this kind of euthanasia is the child euthanasia though it’s illegal in many parts of the world. This kind of practice is only allowed in Netherlands but under strict conditions. Involuntary euthanasia is a life ending process against the consent of the patient. At time passive euthanasia is usually done which involves treatment withholding. The drugs which the patient is denied are those with the capacity to continue life. The most difficult euthanasia is where lethal substances are used to cause death and this is the most controversial procedure (Biggs, 2001).

Euthanasia in New York

According to the task force (2000) Euthanasia is illegal in New YorkState. This is because it tends to take America to a new terrain that it has never been. It is held that the action will deeply be harmful to a larger potion of the population. Especially in line of the widespread malfunction of American medicine to treat pain sufficiently or spot and treat depressions in many cases. The danger will extend to all persons who are sick. They would be most ruthless for these whose independence and well-being is affected by poor quality, not have of contact a good medical care or relationship in stigmatized social set. The risk to authorize euthanasia for these persons, in a health care scheme and culture that can not efficiently guard against the impact of insufficient resources and embedded social difficulty are likely to be amazing.    

The division between the rejection of medical treatment and aided suicide has not been well expressed in the open civic debate. The most used rubric of the right to pass away vague the difference. The Medias exposure of person’s cases as a way of presenting the matter openly also smears the distinction between a community policy and a personal act: between what people may find pleasing in a certain case and what would really occur in doctor’s workplace, clinics and sickbays if euthanasia is accepted as normal medical practices. In civic view polls, centering on whether people think they may want these choices for themselves one day, also presents little insight a bout what it means for the society to formulate euthanasia and regulated by the state or medical profession itself oversee.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Raymond (2002) states the “Hippocratic Oath, originating in 400 B.C., and the standard for medical practice ever since, states, “I will keep [the sick] from harm and injustice. I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to that effect.” As a result gong against the oath is crime.

Plato. Laws, Book IX say that the states that allow euthanasia in the United States include North and South Dakota, New Jersey, Washington, Nevada among others. In this states suicide is regarded as a common law crime hence it hinders the recovery for the family of the person suicide except when the suicidal is proved to being insane or involuntary for the family to be compensated by the court. It occurs if the family sues the involved party for negligence in failing to provide necessary care. In Washington assisted suicide was legalized after the passing of Oregon. In this act a patient has to be diagnosed when having not more than six month to live, sound minded requested both orally and written, having two doctors approval. After which it waits for 15 days and request is made again. The doctor doesn’t administer but prescribes a lethal dose. Following this act   federal court uphold Oregon’s law. (Standler, 2005)

Despite the fact that these practice is against the law some patients may at times refuse to continue taking drugs that are meant to sustain their life. These law brings much controversies as to if the prohibition of euthanasia violates the protection rights of its citizens (Rubin, 2007). The people dealing with justice still insist that the prohibition of euthanasia does not violate the rights of its citizens. The medical practitioners of New York asserts that the new policy restricts them from prescribing lethal medicines to patients with both terminal and mental illness who are in great agony and in need of their assistance to terminate their life. Some terminally ill patients have been reported to sue the New York’s attorney general for allowing refusal of taking medical treatment which sustains life yet they don’t allow patients in agony and great pain to be helped by physicians to terminate their lives (Lipman, 1996). For these reason the patients claimed that their equal protection rights had been violated. They based there case on the fact that allowing refusal of taking life sustaining drugs is the same as euthanasia since passive euthanasia is where a patients is denied life sustaining drugs.

The court did not support their allegations because their main objective as a state is to protect life and not to take it a way. For these reason the support of artificial death goes against the law of protecting the life of all its citizens. Unfortunately the resolution of this issue did not take place because such amendments can only be made by the State through democracy. The New York state defended itself by saying that not all competent patients receive equal treatment though they maybe in last stages of their terminal complications (Lipman, 1996). The court argued that the only people who the state allows the physicians to hasten their death by removal of the life supporting systems are those in the last stage of their fatal disease. Therefore those in similar situations but not on the life sustaining systems are not to be helped in terminating their lives. In the perception of the New York court there is no similarity between removal of the life support system and assisted suicide. The conclusion on this issue by the state was that there are no state benefits in refusing to allow assisted suicide (Dyck, 2002).

The impacts of the New York law on individual rights

The patients based their accusation on the clause that states that “no state shall deny any individual within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” from this law there are no any substantive rights. What this statement implicates is that all cases must be treated equally by the state though indifferent cases may be treated unlikely. Therefore the states constitution does not allow indifferent things to be treated as if they were similar. For this reason if a particular distinction overwhelms a right that is fundamental or a right that targets a specific group of people as long as the legislative is rational it will be upheld (Scherer, & Simon, 1999).

The prohibition of aided suicide addresses the matter of equal treatment to all New Yorkers. Therefore this law does not violate individual rights nor treat people basing on their classes. Therefore the allegations that this law causes discrimination of people basing on their class and grouping are not true. For this reason courts were argued to make reference on the constitution while handling such issues than on personal rights or allegations. The law against assisted suicide is valid and held with strong presumption (Scherer, & Simon, 1999). Terminally ill patients thinks that by allowing individuals to stop taking life supporting treatment and medications and at the same time prohibiting assisted suicide is indifferent treatment of its citizens who are terminally or fatally ill.

The court argues that there is distinct difference between withdrawal of drugs meant to sustain life and assisted suicide within the medical profession (Lipman, 1996). Therefore its logistics are still rational. One of the important aspects about the constitution of New York City is that when a specific classification is based rationally the effects caused by whatever law will not be a concern of the constitution. Some of the clear realities are that a patient who refuses life sustaining drugs will eventually die from whatever ailment they were suffering from but a patient who takes a lethal dose that was prescribed by a doctor dies as a result of the drug effects. For these reason the two cases are not similar. For example the removal of an important tube causes death but it’s as a result of the fatal disease but not the drugs or lethal substances subscribed by a physician. Therefore death resulting from disconnection of life sustaining treatment is considered as a natural death and not artificial or induced death (Scherer, & Simon, 1999).

A physician, who honors the patients request of withdrawal from the drugs which are sustaining his life primarily aims at killing the patient. In the same case a doctor who prescribes medication to a patient in order to relieve pain though the patients eventually dies is not guilty of assisted suicide because his intentions were good. For this reason aided death only occurs when the doctor primarily purposes to accomplish that. Similarly a patient who terminates his life through the assistance of a physician had primarily decided to commit suicide. The patients who decided to stop taking drugs which were prescribed by the doctor in order to sustain his life might or might not die therefore the New York law against assisted suicide does not infringe the protection rights of the patients of equal treatment. Therefore the different people involved in this issue play an important role in distinguishing the difference between euthanasia and allowance of refusal to take prescribed drugs (Lipman, 1996).

The law that allows patients on life sustaining drugs to stop or terminate continued taking of the prescribed drugs was passed in the year 1965. Since its enactment a few patients have been protected by the government when they stopped taking the prescribed medication. There has been no further endorsement of the individual rights about the issue. Further more there are no plans by the state to allow or legalize euthanasia (Lipman, 1996). There decision has been based on the different consequence that will result from legalizing euthanasia as opposed to refusal of usage of the life sustaining drugs. A further development that has been done is the recognition of existing difference between the two aspects. The clear distinction is allowing refusal to usage of prescribed drug allows the patient to die whereas euthanasia makes the patient to die. Therefore there are no rights that are infringed by prohibiting euthanasia.

The reasons for euthanasia

Study suggests that in previous year’s patients with terminal and chronic illness tended to pass on quickly. This has greatly changed with the invention of new technologies. The improved technology has the capacity to prolong life thus making patients with great pain to continue living. At times it’s not worth it to keep prolonging life when a patient is in great agony due to the restriction of the law. It’s very expensive to keep supporting such people on life sustaining machineries when all hope for recovery is gone. People preferred the legal restrictions and religious values of the form years because there were considerate but at the moment these rules cannot offer much to the patients who are barely making it (McMillan, et al. 1987). Most of the times the patients with life threatening conditions in the final stage wish to die peacefully with some help from their physician but, because the law prohibits such exercise the victims end up committing suicide on their own. Such practices and threatening situations include; terminally ill patients, mercy killings, abortion, and divine healing.  

Terminally ill patients

Patients with such complication at times decide to end their life cruel when they realize that their family may be affected by their living either financially or psychologically. If the family fails to allow the patient to have an assisted death some even opt to shoot selves in order to end their mystery. Moral values of patients are compromised when the terminally ill patients decide to end their life in indecent way because the law prohibits them from assisted suicide. Many people with good morals wish to die peacefully and that hope is not usually lost because of the sickness and that is the reason why they opt to die respectively by being assisted by the physician to end their lives (Zemer, & Jacob, 1995).

Other times the family might have even spent all the money they had on the patient and there is nothing remaining to continue support him to live and when their request for euthanasia is not granted these people are left very hopeless and demoralized. For example cancer patients who are in their final stage undergo much pain most of them are usually bedridden and on addition to the ailment there are some other complex complications. Therefore the patient wishes to die in an honorable way in order to alienate the much pain and agony and also save his family from the continuous struggles and stress. It looks inhumane when such requests are not granted on the basis of mere laws. Most people terms it as infringing with personal private issues because they think they personally have the mandate to decide whether they want to continue living or not (Zemer, & Jacob, 1995).

Many of the patients who make such requests are usually hopeless since there is no indication of recovery. Euthanasia was meant to be a merciful act of helping a terminal ill patient and not killing. Socially euthanasia is looked at as an act of mercy. This practice is common among the military where the colleagues of an allying patient help him to terminate his pain. This happened majorly after the first and the Second World War. Many people prefer a faster death than a delayed one when there is no much hope of getting well. Human euthanasia has profound controversies some people are for the act whereas others are not. Basically religion belief and faith does not allow one to take his life at whatever circumstances. Religious values do not allow suicide or murder.

Mercy killing

Though it was legal to practice euthanasia in the olden days the advancement in the field of medicine changed the whole original intentions. Much change took force in the 19th century when euthanasia became a new mode of dying. After that evolution there were further changes from euthanasia being part of the sphere of medicine to other spheres of law and sociology. As new technology was invented euthanasia further moved to lethal dosage a familiar practice in the 21st century. Euthanasia is no longer a major problem because of lethal dosing because physicians view it as a practice meant to relieve pain. Assisted suicide which is not done by a medical practitioner or physician is referred to as mercy killings. Mercy killing is illegal though those who commit such crimes receive leaser punishment by the law. The work of mercy killers is to end lives of their families who maybe insane or may have some diseases which cannot be cured or maintained. Statistics and research reveals that people who commit such crimes are hardly convicted. Records reveal that the longest a mercy killer has ever taken in prison is just three months (Post, 1993).

The judgment on mercy killings posses a great challenge to the ongoing debates of euthanasia. One is left thinking if the decision makers really apply common sense or not. There ought to be a clear decision on whether it’s right to have mercy killing followed by its legalization or whether it’s not right therefore illegal. It’s quite challenging for the proponents and opponents of euthanasia. If mercy killers who decide to end the life of someone in much pain go unpunished yet if the same thing is conducted by a medical doctor is crime. It looks like the people who passed the law of prohibiting euthanasia did carry out enough research because people will opt for mercy killing as a way of evading the long arms of the law. The main question in the hearts of scholars is the ambivalent moral and legal response towards mercy killings. Mercy killing ought to be treated as a violation of the law just as euthanasia is treated. For these reason there is the urgency of treating euthanasia in the knowledge of mercy killing (Post, 1993).

Abortion in relation to euthanasia

One of the reasons why such crimes are treated with a laser punishment is because most of the victims usually turn themselves in. Mostly the people who commit such crimes are declared insane and that is the reason why they are not usually convicted. Abortion is conducted on similar bases as assisted suicides. The people who carry out abortion clams they have the right to decide whatever they can do with they bodies. Thus claiming that prohibition of abortion infringes on their rights. This is the same bases that those who carry out this practice make allegations on (McMillan, et al. 1987). They claim that they have the right to decide on what they can do with their live. Therefore whether they decide to terminate their lives or not should be a personal decision and not an issue of the government. Mothers have gone to hospital to seek elimination of a fetus because of serious disablement of the fetus. Most legalized abortions came about as a result of health complications in the mother. At other times doctors really don’t know what to do with mentally disturbed women who are expectant. It’s very difficult for a woman with mental complication to raise an infant. Most of the times the advocates for the disabled women really don’t know whether to allow them to terminate the fetus though such decisions can cause many implications on the states law (McMillan, et al. 1987). 

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