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There are many sides to the dilemma of whether or not

euthanasia should be carried out. There is the question of morality, the

question of active versus passive euthanasia and the question of when

euthanasia should be put into use. None of these questions are totally

cut and dry. There seem to be more gray areas within this issue than

there are black and white. Yet when you look at the problem on a personal

level with the actual individuals involved, some of those gray areas

almost disappear. People are put on this earth to live. When it gets to

the point where the quality of a person's life gets so bad that they can

no longer function in the world, there is no reason to force that person

to stay alive. Euthanasia is therefore a necessary evil for those whose

practical life is in effect over due to a terminal illness or otherwise

life devastating condition.

If a person is in unbearable pain and close to death or is in a

vegetable state and no longer able to function, their life is by all

practical means over. There is no reason to keep them alive. The only

way to end their physical life is by euthanasia. The question is whether

to do this by way of active euthanasia or passive euthanasia. Many are

against active euthanasia because in this case you actually kill the

person rather than letting them die. But both methods are used for the

same end which is to end someone's life without further pain for the

patient as well as for the family. The only choice to make after this

fact is established is which of these means better carries out the end.

James Rachels, a philosophy professor, says that, "if one simply withholds

treatment [in the way of passive euthanasia], it may take the patient

longer to die, and so he may suffer more than he would if more direct

action were taken and a lethal injection given." (Rachels, p.111) This

defeats the purpose of euthanasia which is to end suffering. Therefore,

in cases where euthanasia is going to be carried out, active euthanasia is

the better choice.

The problem with euthanasia then lies in defining the conditions

under which it would be carried out. Cases where depression or painful,

though not terminal, diseases are involved should not have the option of

euthanasia. These people can recover from their illnesses and go on to

lead very fulfilling lives. Clear cut cases would be those in which the

patient has a terminal illness that causes them incredible pain as they

get closer to death. Euthanasia would end the needless suffering and

quicken the already inevitable death. There are also the cases involving

people in a vegetative state. Sometimes their bodies can function on

their own and live with the help of intravenous nourishment. Other times

they need countless machines to regulate their breathing as well as their

heart. In all of these cases the individual has lost the brain capacity

to be conscious and to think. Without our thoughts we would not truly be

alive. People in this condition can only cause pain to their loved ones.

There is no legitimate reason not to end their lives when their quality of

life has already deteriorated to almost nothing.

Cases in which a living will is concerned are legitimate since the

person involved has the right to dictate what happens to their bodies but

they are less clear cut. Take, for example, the case of a person who has

specified in their will not to take any extraordinary means by way of

medicine in order to save their life if a medical emergency were to come

up. This person then has a heart attack and dies because the doctors are

not allowed to do anything to save them. A heart attack is by no means a

terminal illness. Many people who have them survive with the help of

today's medical technology. Yet this person is allowed to die because

that is what they asked for. This is a form of passive voluntary

euthanasia. It is acceptable simply because it is voluntary and legally

bound to a living will.

Everyone has a different view on the acceptability of euthanasia.

What might seem legitimate to one person may be outrageous to another.

Religion plays a big part in this controversy and along with it, morals.

Because everyone has differing religions and morals, it would be near

impossible to make up a set of universal rules for the practice of

euthanasia that would make everyone happy. The only way to please

everyone is to leave the rules in the hands of the individual in question

or, if they are physically unable to make the disision, in the hands of

their family. People should have the right to live and the right to

choose how they will die, if indeed they are terminally ill or unable to

function in life. If a person wants to end the suffering, they should

have that choice. After all, they are the ones who would be ultimately

affected by euthanasia. They are the only ones who would have to live, or

die, with their choice.

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