Legality of euthanasia - Wikipedia

These and many other questions are asked when the controversial topic of euthanasia is discussed.

Free euthanasia Essays and Papers - 123HelpMe

One of the main reasons that the debate about euthanasia hasbeen so hotly contested is because it challenges the value systemsof people. The people who believe in individual rights and qualityof life as the supreme value see their value hierarchy threatenedin the status quo by the power of the state. If the status quowere to change to eliminate this threat, people who see life itselfas the supreme value would find their value hierarchy threatened.

Euthanasia is a controversial topic which has raised a great deal of debate globally.

Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide All sides to the issue

"The Nazi's hid their racist, eugenic agenda behind theterm 'euthanasia,' terminating in secret the lives of 'undesirables.'It must never be forgotten that the Nazi 'euthanasia' programwas never euthanasia at all. That the Nazi's co-opted the termfor their own purposes should not obscure the fact that theirmotive was, from the very beginning, entirely different from thatof today's euthanasia proponents. The current euthanasia movementis anything but covert. The Hemlock Society and other supportersof the right to receive aid in dying have spent millions of dollarsto publicize their efforts. In this context, death is presentedas a positive alternative to pain and suffering, not a utilitariantool."

Proponentsof euthanasia also attempt to refute the slippery slope argumentin a variety of other ways. They contend that the current mechanismsused by the courts could easily prevent any slide toward involuntaryeuthanasia, that the currentpractice of passive euthanasia proves that the slope isn't allthat slippery since we haven't witnessed any massive killing programs,and that the example of how forced sterilization in the U.S. hasdiminished rather than increased, provides a more appropriateexample to rely on. Even Callahan (1989), a vocal opponent ofactive euthanasia, admits that the Nazi experience is not particularlyapplicable to the U.S. experience and that "Lives are notbeing shortened. They are steadily being lengthened, and particularlyfor those who are the most powerless: sick children and the veryold, the mentally and mentally retarded, the disabled and thedemented" (p. 4).

The movement to legalize active euthanasia has existed forquite some time. Initially popularized in Britain during the 19thcentury, it gained some adherents in the United States duringthe 1920's. It was the Nazi program of active euthanasia in the1930's and 40's that cast a pall of disrepute over the practicethat remains today. The revival of this movement today can largelybe attributed to the onset of the issues discussed at the beginningof this paper, and to the efforts of the Hemlock Society, a groupof individuals that actively promotes the right to "dignifieddeath." The Hemlock Society recently promoted ballot initiativesin both Washington and California that would have legalized activeeuthanasia in those states (Gifford, 1993). This revival of the"right to die" movement has led to hotly contested debateabout the practices of active euthanasia and physician assistedsuicide. This paper will attempt to encapsulate this debate bypresenting the arguments made by both opponents and supportersof these procedures. Since arguments made by both sides are usedin cases of euthanasia and assisted suicide, the generic term"euthanasia" is used for simplicity to suggest the conceptof "aided death" unless otherwise indicated. Those opposedto euthanasia and assisted suicide present a variety of argumentsin support of a ban.


There is some doubt, however, about whether the Supreme Courtin its current configuration would be willing to extend a rightthat is not specifically stated in the Constitution to cover suchpractices (Gifford, p. 1576-77). In the Cruzan decision,the Court seemed quite willing to let questions of this naturebe settled by the states (Cruzan, p. 2842). As we have alreadyseen, the argument for privacy and autonomy has generated considerablesupport in the realm of passive euthanasia.


The advance directive is useful because it can theoreticallyeliminate the need for involuntary euthanasia. It ensures thata voluntary decision is made in advance, even if the individualcould not make such a situation at a later date. If everyone madeuse of the advance directive, there would be no need to debatepolicy decisions that must be made in the case of an incompetentperson on life support. Because advance directives have neitherbeen accepted nor widely used by the general public, many of theproblems that could potentially be solved remain. This situationcaused right to die groups in both California and Washington topropose ballot initiatives that would legalize active euthanasia(Gifford, p. 1550-51).

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Humanists live by moral principles and promote happiness and fulfillment in this life; they believe that voluntary euthanasia is morally correct, whilst upholding the need for safeguards to preven...

Physician-Assisted Suicide - Introduction

The distinction between active and passive euthanasia is notnearly as clear as the previous distinction. Although many authorsclaim that the difference between the two types cannot be identifiedor is irrelevant at best, much of the debate on the subject isover this distinction and most of the current legal issues turnon this distinction. While this paper will contend that the differencebetween the two should not be recognized, it is both useful andimportant to know where the line is drawn. The AMA, which is stronglyopposed to active euthanasia, has seen fit to endorse passiveeuthanasia in appropriate situations. The Council on Ethical andJudicial Affairs makes the distinction as follows: