euthanasia in America
Juliette Lewis was right when she said "the bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die." Death is inevitable and a part of life. But so is living. Far braver is it to choose life instead of death. Would it surprise you to know that euthanasia is occurring in America today known as doctor assisted suicide and extreme late term abortions? Simply take the doctor prescribed lethal medication designed to stop your heart and you can legally end your own life in many states. Equally, in many states one may now decide in the delivery room whether to abort a baby that has been born. This growing acceptance of ending life among Americans should be a cause for alarm. There is a great difference in actively ending one's own life and passively ending one's own life. Society walks a morally fine line with end of life wishes. While there is a growing acceptance of euthanasia in America, society should take a step back and evaluate the moral and ethical ramifications of euthanasia. Americans should not have the right to terminate their own life or the life of a baby. However, there are end of life wishes that meet the moral framework of a society that values life.
There are several states that have passed laws allowing euthanasia. All states that have adopted laws allowing physician assisted suicide require that a patient must be given six months to live and able to take their own doctor prescribed lethal medications which stops the patient's heart whereby ending life. The states that allow physician assisted suicide are California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Montana, Washington DC, and Washington. (ProCon.org). According to ProCon.org, 41 states either have laws that specifically prohibit physician assisted suicide or have laws that indirectly prohibit the practice.
The value of life, once cherished, is diminishing and being redefined as right to choose. Medical professionals are often times either required or encouraged to participate in taking an oath upon completion of their training. After completion of medical school doctors will take a Hippocratic Oath to the profession. According to the US National Library of Medicine the Hippocratic Oath contains the words "I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion". There are doctors who upon taking their Hippocratic Oath have been performing physician assisted suicide with lethal medication administration and performing abortions. As times have changed and as social acceptance of once taboo procedures have changed, so has the Hippocratic Oath. According to the US National Library of medicine the Hippocratic Oath "...has been rewritten often in order to suit the values of different cultures".
American society continues to depart from the bedrocks on which American morality was built upon. These departures have led to full term abortions and physician assisted suicides. Unconscionably, several states have enacted laws that allow a mother who has just given birth to a living child the ability to decide whether or not to let the child perish in the delivery room after birth. According to Melissa Barnhart of christianpost.com, "The seven (now eight) states that have no gestational limits on abortion are: Alaska, Colorado, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Vermont, along with Washington, D.C." No gestational age restrictions includes the immediate minutes following a successful birth of a living child. To be clear, this means that it is legal in some states to effectively murder a living breathing baby who just entered the world. The morality of abortion is examined by Ravi Zacharias, a modern day theologian. He argues the question by posing a question. Ravi Zacharias poses an amazing analogy "...A plane is in mid-air, suddenly it crashes, seemingly for no reason, it explodes, and strangely 10 people live and 70 people die. It's an act of God according to the proverbial usage. And people say to me what kind of God is this? 70 die and 10 live, God is immoral in doing that. I say can you help solve this conundrum for me? If indeed it is an act of God that 70 die and 10 live and he made that choice for it to happen, you're calling his choice immoral. I said when you have the opportunity to determine whether someone within you lives or dies within you your calling it your moral right. I said can you explain this conundrum for me?" What a conundrum! It would appear that society has accepted immoral acts and called it a moral right or in other words a right to choose in the name of progress.
Progress is defined by Merriam-Webster's Dictionary as "gradual betterment especially: the progressive development of mankind." According to the CDC, there have been approximately 50 million abortions in the United States since 1973 when abortions became legal. (Des Moines Register) Prior to 1973 abortions in the United States were essentially illegal with exception to saving the life of the mother. Progress of abortions in the United States have journeyed from 1st trimester only, to 2nd trimester, to 3rd trimester leading up to today where a mother may decide in the delivery room, even after giving birth in some states, whether or not to abort the child's life known as extreme late term abortion. Has "gradual betterment especially: the progressive development of mankind" occurred with abortion or has American values and ethics been fractured through this process? Certainly, America should not permit babies to be aborted in the delivery room under extreme late term abortion laws.
Perhaps an alternative for many abortions should be adoption. Specifically, unwanted pregnancy abortions where simply the mother does not want a child. According to American Adoptions, Inc. there are 36 families looking for adoption for every child born in the United States. This equates to over 2 million families looking to adopt a child every year. With roughly 600,000 abortions per year in the United States there are families who would have welcomed the child through adoption. It was Leonard Nemoy who played Spok in the movie Star Trek who said "the needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few." Certainly abortions have long surpassed what we as a society intended or could have foreseen. Babies are now being born in some states and then left to die in the delivery room at the wishes of the mother. There are alternatives such as adoption. America needs to have a debate and roll back the progress of abortion to where it is more in line with the moral values and ethics of a society that values life.
Progress of suicide in the United States has journeyed from illegal to legal in many states whereby a person may end their own life through doctor assisted suicide. While still in its infancy, doctor assisted suicide has been growing in popularity among Americans since the 1990's when Dr. Jack Kevorkian assisted his patients in taking lethal medications to end their own life. Using the abortion debate model and while not having not the tenure of the abortion debate, one would assume that doctor assisted suicide will progress in such a way as the abortion debate did in America. Doctor assisted suicide is a type of active suicide in which the doctor and the patient actively work together to end the life of the person through the administration of lethal drugs. It is reasonable to think where this type of practice will lead when examining it under the prism of abortion.
Active suicide requires that a person be given less than six months to live and possess the ability to take their own lethal medication. Active suicide is truly suicide in that it provides the lethal substance that will cause death. Active suicide goes against widely accepted American morals and conscience. In Michael J. Hyde's book "The Call of Conscience" the author makes the statement that "We are all fated to hear the call of conscience..." Providing lethal drugs to someone who wants to end their own life brings this call of conscience to mind.
There are alternatives to end of life wishes that do not require active doctor assisted suicide. The alternative, passive suicide, is in the form of a DNR (do not resuscitate). This approach to end of life wishes does not provide the means for a medical provider to end someone's life with lethal medications. Rather, and more in tune with American morals, allows the healthcare provider to withhold or limit life saving measures at the wishes of the patient through a DNR. According to everplans.com, a DNR is filled out between the person seeking a DNR and a doctor. The DNR can be curtailed to the wishes of the person obtaining one which can either limit, restrict or enhance medical procedure wishes.
As a healthcare provider for nearly 20 years, I have delivered children, been at the bedside during the final breaths of a person's life, and have saved lives. I have stood bedside honoring a DNR end of life wishes of patients and provided comfort care while they pass. I have seen injuries and disease that should have taken a life and didn't. In every case there has been this amazing fight for life of the human body. Life wants to live whether it be in the womb our outside the womb. It fights to live until the very last breath. Why then has American society not fought for life alongside the human body? The human body fights each time I fight alongside it to save a life. More times than I can count I have seen the human body survive and even thrive after a close bout with death. Take one summer day about 10 years ago when I received a call on my firetruck of a shooting. Upon arrival I found a grandmother sobbing over the lifeless body of a 3 year old boy who had accidentally shot himself in the head. Despite barely breathing, barely a heartbeat, and massive bleeding the little boy's human body continued to fight to live. Three months later that child came into our fire station and gave us all high fives. He continues to live and thrive to this day. In my experience it was always the human body that gave up on life before people did.
End of life wishes are very personal. A DNR allows a person to pass naturally, with dignity and in comfort. America should not be in the business of suicide or murder by allowing a baby born only to die in the delivery room or by prescribing lethal medications to adults to commit suicide. In conclusion, the reality of today in America is that abortions are being performed up to and including post-birth of a child, and physicians are assisting patients with suicide by prescribing lethal medications designed to stop the heart. It is unconscionable to think where we find ourselves today in America and unthinkable to imagine where American society is headed unless a change of direction occurs. End of life wishes are personal choices that should be curtailed to the accepted morals of society. If left unchecked, the value of life will be eroded and the moral fabric that holds society together will be torn.
***Three areas in which I feel this paper could be improved
1. After reading the paper I feel there is redundancy in wording. This could be curtailed.
2.Siting references could be enhanced and cleaned up
3.Length...The length of the paper isn't 8 pages but there isn't more I have to say