Opinions on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

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Opinions of euthanasia and assisted suicide vary by country to country, and only a few nations permit euthanasia in the case of terminally ill patients (van der Heide et. al., 2007, p. 1957). The public discourse surrounding the ethical, and subsequently legal status of euthanasia is frequently heated and somewhat polarized, because the debate cuts to the very heart of notions of human rights and ethics. Unfortunately, this only tends to further obscure the issue at hand, which is in reality a fairly simple question. Namely, what is more important; the preservation of individual human life for as long as possible, potentially despite the wishes of the individual, or allowing an individual to choose the time and manner of his or her death? As will be seen, the only reasonable answer to this question is to favor individual freedom, but first, it will be necessary to counter some of the distractions and misinformation that opponents of euthanasia use to avoid confronting the essential question at hand. Before addressing why euthanasia for terminally ill patients must be permitted in any reasonably just society, it is necessary to counter what opponents of euthanasia argue are the potentially negative social consequences of the practice. The essence of the argument against euthanasia is that it devalues human life, and a natural corollary of this belief is the notion that the legalization of euthanasia will result in a subsequent increase of the practice and a further
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