Maggie's Policy Speech

Maggie Karns
March 8, 2009
Laws of Euthanasia
Euthanasia is the act of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, as by lethal injection or the suspension of extraordinary medical treatment. There are actually three types of euthanasia. The first type is called passive euthanasia, which involves withholding treatments that are vital to the patients’ survival or medication that will soothe pain and eventually cause a patient to die, such as a morphine drip. The second type is called non-aggressive euthanasia which involves the complete removal of any type of life support. The most controversial type of euthanasia is called aggressive euthanasia. It is also known as death penalty or punishment by death. Lethal substances are involuntarily put into the body. As of 2008, euthanasia is legal in Spain, Thailand, Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, and Switzerland.
Assisted suicide has been legal in the state of Oregon since 1997. When the law became legal, Oregon enacted the Death with Dignity Act. This act permits terminally ill residents of Oregon to end their lives by voluntarily self-administering a lethal medication that has been prescribed by a physician. Any patient who has participated in the Act must release information to the Oregon Department of Human Services so it can be published in an annual statistical report. The Act states that ending one’s life according to the law does “not constitute suicide of assisted suicide”.
In 1987, Dr. Jack Kevorkian or “Dr. Death”, a medical doctor of Pontiac Michigan, began advertising himself as a physician consultant for “death counseling”. The State of Michigan revoked his medical license in 1991 because they believed that the acts he was practicing were immoral. He was no longer allowed to work with patients or practice medicine. He disobeyed their rules and assisted in nearly one hundred deaths in the state of Michigan between 1990 and 1998. All terminally ill patients allegedly took the final action which resulted in their own deaths. Kevorkian was charged multiple times before he was convicted in 1998 for the murder of a Michigan man. He was convicted of murder after injecting lethal drugs into Thomas Youk, a fifty-two year old man suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Kevorkian was charged with second degree murder and earned a ten to twenty-five year sentence in jail.
Another case of Euthanasia that resulted in a fifteen year battle was the case of Terri Schiavo. In 1990, Terri Schiavo collapsed due to the lack of oxygen to the brain, a neurological injury. She was placed on a ventilator but was soon able to breathe of her own. A PEG tube or feeding tube was provided to ensure that Terri was getting the nutrients and hydration that was needed. In 2000, Terri’s husband Michael decided that Terri’s feeding tube needed to be removed because “she would not want to be kept alive by artificial means”. Terri’s family thought that Michael only wanted to practice euthanasia because he wanted life insurance and other sources of money. They fought back and forth with the congress about whether it was moral or not, considering that Terri was consciously moving her limbs and eyes. Terri’s feeding tube was removed and put back in three times within fifteen years. On March 21, 2005, Congress passed a bill that gave jurisdiction over Terri’s fate to federal courts. They had opposed legislation to reinsert the feeding tube. On March 31, 2005, Terri died of starvation. People debated about whether or not Terri was in pain, but the decision to pull the feeding tube was against her intermediate family’s wishes. People’s motives need to be questioned, to recognize the purpose for the patient to either be taken off of life support, or remain in the vegetative state. The nation questioned the Supreme Court’s decision, wondering if the case would have had a different outcome if Terri was in a state of vegetation. A law should be created that you have to state on your driver’s license record, what you would like to have done if you are in the vegetative state.
Anyone over the age of eighteen will state on their drivers license record, if in the vegetative state, what they would like to have done. If the individual chooses to perform euthanasia, they have to state that they would like to receive non-aggressive euthanasia which involves the complete removal of any type of life support. Also, they have to state how long they can remain in the vegetative state before a doctor performs euthanasia. If the individual wants to remain on life support while in the vegetative state, they simply state, “no euthanasia”. If anyone over the age of eighteen does not have a driver’s license record, it will be put on their record when they go get a work permit or a standard I.D. This is in relation to organ donation. The individual has the choice to donate their organs or not donate their organs. The decision to say yes to euthanasia needs to be talked about with family members, to prevent controversy if something happens, that causes an individual to go into a vegetative state. Individuals at any time can change their euthanasia status. This law will not eliminate controversies like Terri’s completely, but it will eliminate the question of life support or no life support to those individuals who said “yes” to euthanasia. When enforcing this law, individuals need to put a lot of thought into their decision to say yes or no to euthanasia.
Euthanasia, under the right circumstances, should be an option for patients in the vegetative state. Deciding if you want to be alive or not is a personal decision. The decision to live or to die shouldn’t be made by the doctors or government; it should be made by the suffering individual. This shouldn’t be made by the family during the death; it needs to be dealt with before the situation arises. There are many reasons that people request to die through the performance of euthanasia. Many people see euthanasia as a way to stop the pain. If a patient’s pain is unbearable, they would want to save themselves and their family members the pain and misery. No one else can make this decision because we are not in the shoes of people who are going through a slow, painful death. Euthanasia needs to be outlined in every individual’s records to ensure that euthanasia performed for the right reasons.
Terri Schiavo didn’t have this choice. She was simply tossed around by her family wanting one thing and her husband wanting another. Terri was voiceless and couldn’t share her opinion. The decisions that were made to take out the feeding tube and reinsert the feeding tube were based merely off of “he said she said”. I think my policy would help with cases like these.
It is arguable that euthanasia is immoral and cruel. If an individual is making their own decision about euthanasia, it is not immoral. Euthanasia, much like organ donation, is not something that we as humans think about on an everyday basis. It is he or she’s own decision to decide whether or not they want to remain in the vegetative state or not.

Work Cited
By Maggie Karns
Foley, Kathleen (2002). What is Euthanasia?. Retrieved March 7, 2009, from Euthanasia Pro's and Con's Web site:

Heard , Timothy D (2008, February 25). Arguments Against Euthanasia. Retrieved March 7, 2009, from Euthanasia Web site:

Robinson, B.A. (2005). Euthanasia and Terri Shiavo. Retrieved March 8, 2009, from Consultants on Religous Tolerance Web site:

Gale, Thomas (2005). Jack Kevorkian Biography. Retrieved March 8, 2009, Web site:

Lynne, Diana (2005, March 24). Life and Death Tug of War . Retrieved March 8, 2009, from The Whole Terri Schiavo Story Web site:

Cangialosi, Jason (2005, November 9). Health and Wellness. Retrieved March 8, 2009, from An Overview of the Debate Over Euthanasia and the Right to Die Web site:

Baklinski, Thaddeus M. (2009, February 19). Life Site News. Retrieved March 8, 2009, from Second International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Web site:

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