Euthanasia Essay

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The fear of enduring unceasing pain, of being trapped by medical machines, of losing bodily integrity and personal dignity and of being an emotional and financial drain on one's loved ones- such fear lends strength to the movement for euthanasia and for physician-assisted suicide (PAS).
Support for euthanasia/PAS has been spurred on by the
Hemlock Society, founded by former journalist Derek Humphry and based in Eugene, Oregon. The society's political arm helped draft initiatives aimed at legalizing euthanasia.
Ballot initiatives in the states of Washington (1991) and
California (1992) were both narrowly defeated by a 54 to 46 percent margin. The defeat of these "euthanasia" initiatives shifted the focus to
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36) Amundsen, a professor of classics at Western
Washington University, focuses on medical practice and ethics in ancient and medieval times. By tracing attitudes toward euthanasia and suicide from antiquity to the present, the authors offer the historical perspective that has been missing in the debate. They argue that while both
Greco-Roman and Enlightenment thinkers accepted the idea of suicide, the Judeo-Christian tradition does not. Charles
McKhann, professor of surgery at Yale Medical School, joins the increasingly-vocal minority within the medical community who have begun to question the profession's traditional opposition to PAS. He argues that PAS is accepted as a last resort.(McCuen pg. 67)

Richard A. McCormick, dean of Catholic moral theologians, once said that we can easily soften resistance to the unacceptable if we confuse it with the acceptable.
The easiest way to skew the euthanasia /PAS debate is to see it as a "pulling the plug " issue. But forgoing useless or disproportionately burdensome treatment--which is what we generally mean by "pulling the plug."--is not the same as euthanasia or PAS. Standard medical, moral and legal practices allow competent patients or the surrogate of incompetent patients to select from proposed treatments or to refuse treatment altogether. (Walker pg. 26)

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