Should medically assisted suicide (i.e. euthanasia) be legalized in the U.S.?Look at BOTH sides of the argument; also. be sure to note if your sources are heavily biased one direction or the...

Should medically assisted suicide (i.e. euthanasia) be legalized in the U.S.?

Look at BOTH sides of the argument; also. be sure to note if your sources are heavily biased one direction or the other. Form a position for each side of the argument. (more than just listing pros and cons) and critically discuss the pros and cons of this hot button topic.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You are correct in identifying this particular issue as a "hot button" topic.  I am not sure there will be an absolute answer present because both sides can prove to be quite persuasive and the value system of an individual ends up proving to be quite decisive in such an issue.  In terms of the reasons behind the case for euthanasia, individuals who support it point to the notion of dignity for the patient and the individual being able to have the autonomy to determine when their life should end.  These individuals point to the fact that government or an external body should not have the right or the jurisdiction to tell an individual when they should die.  Individuals have the right to be left alone and can determine for themselves when they wish to end their lives and can solicit that assistance when they feel the time is right.  In the final analysis, this argument becomes the basis of why some believe euthanasia should be legalized.

The flip side to this argument is held by those who are against it and the primary argument used is the notion of legitimized murder.  When individuals are able to assist others in dying, the sanctity of life is violated and human beings are thrust in a role that carries with it the propensity for extremely bad implications.  Individuals who are against euthanasia point to the "slippery slope" argument, suggesting that if the door is opened a bit to permit taking of life in "some" situations, then more opportunities will present itself and individuals will possess greater chance to take life in other predicaments.  At the same time, individuals who are against euthanasia point to the fact that the notion of "mercy killing" has been a tool used by some of the worst people in history to perpetuate the obliteration of many and for any government to sanction such behavior is wrong.

appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many reasons why people think euthanasia or assisted suicide should be legalized. These range from the practical to the emotional. On a practical level, the cost of maintaining a patient on life support machines is exhorbitant, and if there is little chance of their quality of life actually improving, it seems pointless for the families of such people to spend so much money to simply prolong the inevitable.

On an emotional level, many people cannot bear the idea that their loved ones are in pain or suffering. People in the end stages of cancer or other terminal illnesses may suffer extreme pain and discomfort, and assisted suicide is one way of ending their suffering.

One very controversial aspect of this topic is the idea of informed consent. Some patients on life support cannot advocate for themselves, because they are too weak, mentally incompetent, or simply in a living but vegetative state. In such cases, many believe euthanasia is the most humane and reasonable option to end their suffering (if there is no hope for cure), but since the patient themselves cannot make the decision, it is up to family members and/or health care proxies to do so, and such a decision can be complicated by a range of emotions, such as love, guilt, grief, or a sense of duty or responsibility, or even religious convictions.

This is a very complex issue, obviously.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes. In America, which is meant to be a place in which the government is limited and in which each individual should exercise their right to live their lives the way they intend to, it should be an option.


STRONG attention should be placed on the decision-making process in terms of how it would affect the medical team assisting the suicide should the person not be in a quite right state of mind.

If the individual has a history of psychiatric conditions that could be driven to suicidal tendencies, then the practice should not be extended to such individual

If, otherwise, a person is in a deep state of suffering, humilliation, pain, and lack of human dignity, then the individual should simply be interviewed by a team of mental health professionals, backed up by any religious advisor that could propose a more valid argument, and (if the individual still has a stronger case), the procedure should be able to be completed.

bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Euthanasia is one of those issues that each person must decide for him/herself. Those who favor it say that a person should have the right to die with dignity instead of suffering a long, agonizing death. I have concerns with euthanasia because the potential for its abuse would be great. What happens when greed becomes the motivation for assisting someone to die who has a lot of money? There would need to be strict guidelines, but who would enforce them?

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