A difficult problem that is facing society is the legalization of euthanasia, another word for mercy killing. Euthanasia is a method of causing death painlessly to end suffering. People who are in a coma because of accidents and elderly people who are terminally ill because of incurable diseases are being kept alive by artificial means. They do not have a chance to recover, but American laws do not allow doctors to end their lives. Although many people feel that doctors must do everything possible to keep their patients alive, euthanasia should be legal for three reasons.
first and most important reason to support euthanasia is that some patients have no chance of recovery and do not want to be kept alive on machines. They can never lead normal lives and must be kept alive by life-support machines such as respirators to help them breathe arid feeding tubes to provide them with nutrition. They are clearly more dead than alive and will never be able to live a normal life any more.
For example, after Samuel, an infant, had swallowed a balloon, he stopped breathing. The balloon was removed, but lack of oxygen had caused brain damage and left him in an irreversible coma. Samuel was unable to breathe without the aid of a respirator, and there was no hope for his recovery.
Another reason to support mercy killing is that medical costs are very high. Today the cost of a hospital room can be as much as $ 1, 450 per day for basic care, which does not include the cost of specialized care for the use of special equipment.
The high cost of medical care can cause financial problems for the family. For example, Chiles Adkins’ 82-year-old wife lived in a nursing home in a coma for four years. Since there was no chance for her recovery, Mr Adkins’ requested that the medical staff withhold treatment. However, his pleas were ignored. Soon after she died, Mr. Adkins was billed $ 250, 000 for his wife’s medical care. The courts ordered him to pay the bill, which placed a terrible financial burden on him.
The final reason to support the legalization of euthanasia is that the family suffers. The nurses and other hospital staff can give the terminally ill patient only minimal care. Thus, the family must spend time to care for the special needs of their loved one. For instance, a cousin of mine who had been in a motorcycle accident was kept on life-support machines for eight years. He needed someone to stay with him twenty-four hours a day. During those years, his parents took turns taking care of him. His father stayed with him during the day while his mother worked, and then his mother stayed with him at night while his father worked. Other family members tried to help out when they could, but his parents did most of the physical work and suffered most of the emotional stress. After he finally died, my aunt said, “Of course, I am sad, but since we all knew he would eventually die, it might have been better if it had happened right when he had the accident. These past eight years have been hard.”
In the end, patients who are either terminally ill or who are in an irreversible coma often wish to die. Their care is a financial, physical, and emotional burden for their families. Therefore, families should have the right to ask doctors to run off life-support machines or to remove feeding tubes.