Friday, August 24, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 3


 
 









 
Euthanasia threatens medical ethics 

Terri Bohannon
Guest Columnist

"Euthanasia" comes from two Greek words meaning "good death." In practice, it has come to mean the selective killing of those who are
old or sick. Worldwide, support for the practice appears to be increasing. 

Vigorous efforts for legalization are proceeding in numerous countries. The Dutch have now legalized "mercy killing" after many years of
unofficial tolerance. In our own country, euthanasia has been legal in Oregon since 1998.

Reasons given for support include honoring the civil rights of an individual to choose death over an unacceptable quality of life and the
need for providing a means for death with dignity, often with the motive of not burdening loved ones.

Supporters cite a report from the Oregon Health Division for the year 2000, which states that 65 percent of those committing suicide
mention fear of being a burden on family, friends or caregivers as a reason for their decision.

The tragedy is that the above concerns of the sick and elderly arise from pressures exerted by a materialistic, self-centered society that
increasingly embraces the notion of "throwaway" human beings.

There are people who would allow physicians to kill their parents and grandparents once they cease to function as providers of life's
necessities and opportunities. After many years of service, mom, dad, grandma and grandpa are treated like dogs -- sent to the hospital to
be injected with a lethal overdose of drugs.

Supporters of euthanasia lie to themselves and others by saying that they want to end suffering. Their true motives are to get rid of those
who become a problem. For example, now that grandpa and grandma are out of the way, there is more time and money to enjoy life.

Euthanasia is one step closer to the utopian society many dream of. One of those dreamers who used euthanasia was an infamous
chancellor of Germany. His name was Adolf Hitler. In 1939 he made the following statement when ordering the widespread "mercy killing"
of "life unworthy of life":

"The authority of certain physicians to be designated by name in such manner that persons who, according to human judgment, are
incurable can, upon a most careful diagnosis of their condition of sickness, be accorded a mercy death."

With euthanasia, Hitler came closer to that perfect Aryan race he dreamed of -- or it was his delusion that he did. With euthanasia, he
could kill off the unwanted elderly, handicapped, and other people that he decided were unfit to live in his utopian society.

This issue is not about the right to commit suicide. It is about placing the lives of the weakest among us in the hands of people other than
themselves who often have self-serving agendas. Once society gives a group of people the right to end life, our right to life disappears
behind red tape. The value of life diminishes when it can be taken away by others.

The National Conference of Catholic Bishops made the following statement: "The Declaration of Independence proclaims our inalienable
rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If our right to life itself is diminished in value, our other rights will have no meaning."

Supporters of euthanasia think that with strict guidelines, doctors involved will do no wrong, but with euthanasia, the medical profession
will lose the ethical bonds that hold its credibility and morality together.

For example, in the Hippocratic Oath the following ethic will be deemed "useless" if euthanasia becomes widespread in America: "I will
neither prescribe nor administer a lethal dose of medicine to any patient."

Once the medical profession loses its ethics, what is going to stop them from administering overdoses to the "unwanted" without their
consent? Nothing will!

The Dutch are a perfect example of what happens when euthanasia is legalized. The Supreme Court, in its 1997 ruling Washington v.
Glucksberg, cited a 1991 Dutch government study. It states that in 1990, nearly 6,000 of the 130,000 people who died in the Netherlands
were involuntarily euthanized.

With 4 percent of the deaths being unnatural and involuntary, euthanasia is not only a danger to society, but also a danger to you when
you yourself are weak.

The legalization of euthanasia means morals that have been practiced for thousands of years are ignored. Death should be natural, not
hastened by a physician.

When a society murders the elderly for convenience, who is next on the list? We will begin to kill off other "unwanted" people. The Nazis
did that; they euthanized millions in their attempt to create their utopian race.

In a "utopia" the unwanted are slaughtered for the convenience and to "benefit" the wanted. Destroying life for the selfish reasons of saving
time and money damages our society. Would it not be better to love and care for the elderly?

Terry Bohannon, a freshman 
university studies student, welcomes all e-mail at terry@abortionessay.com.


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