Essay on Death with Dignity

2557 Words Nov 15th, 2013 11 Pages
Autonomy is a fundamental right. Liberty interests of patients while coping with terminal illness, however, unlike autonomy, are protected under the Constitution as fundamental rights. Advancements in medicine are extending the average life expectancy for adults. The aging of the baby boomer generation is also contributing to the increase in the growing number of the elder population. As society ages, not only do individuals battle terminal illness, but they combat the unanticipated demands on their right to die with dignity. The ability to choose the timing of one’s death is limited to a few states in America. Additionally, there are a few countries now allowing physician assisted suicide. Even with this option, a patient must …show more content…
Although there is a distinction between euthanasia and death with dignity, the purpose of both is to end one’s unbearable pain and suffering.
The act of euthanasia has negative connotations that stem from a history of genocide. Nazi Germany is an illustrious example of this deed. Using cyanide gas, the Germans exterminated a large portion of the Jewish population. Contrary to popular opinion, genocide is not limited to the past. The atrocities of this practice resurfaced a multitude of times, such as in the civil war, in Rwanda, as well as the conflict in Darfur. Social conditions in all of these countries contributed towards conflict and crisis situations resulting in the onset of social control. Genocide, often viewed as a deviant action, is also a type of social control. The casualties of these wars were not permitted to die with their dignity. Their deaths, indeed, did engender suffering. In these cases, the affected individuals experienced both active and non-voluntary euthanasia.
History provides valuable lessons. Learning about the suffering of others affords us the opportunity to take action to prevent the possibility of reoccurrence. Karen Quinlan is an infamous case from the 1970’s. This woman was in a persistent vegetative state sustained by life-support. Her family petitioned the court to withdraw the ventilator machine, allowing her the right to die with dignity. The judge granted the family’s request

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