Social Question

SpatzieLover's avatar

Will Americans ever allow human euthanasia to be legalized?

Asked by SpatzieLover (24532points) June 3rd, 2011

In reflecting upon Dr. Kervorkian’s career crusade I wonder:

Will another American take it upon himself/herself to fight for the rights of the dying?

What are your thoughts on Jack Kervorkian and his endeavors?

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42 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Well, physician-assisted suicide is legal in Oregon.

tom_g's avatar

The US is a bit too Christian.

I’m all for a sane euthanasia policy (and separation of church and state).

CaptainHarley's avatar

I rank euthanasia right up alongside late-term abortions and “death panels.”

SpatzieLover's avatar

@marinelife Thank you for that link. I had no idea any state allowed for this legally.

When my dad was having excruciating pain, I had to beg a nurse, who in turn advocated for my dad to a different physician. All I can say is if that doctor hadn’t stepped in, my dad would have suffered needlessly for probably another 24–48hrs. She was a saving grace.

poisonedantidote's avatar

2 words: Euthanasia Tax.

Find a way for some greedy bastard to make a bit on the side and it will soon be legal.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I’ve been told that prostate cancer usually goes to bone cancer. In the late stages, bone cancer is considered one of the most painful forms. I have incurable prostate cancer from Agent Orange exposure. Knowing this, I still say that suicide or euthanasia is unacceptable. Now, having said that, I may at some point beg to be released from the pain. That will not be my better judgment speaking, but my diminishing tolerance to long-term pain. It’s well-known that men will say virtually anything to end torture, which is what late-stage cancer can sometimes become.

tom_g's avatar

@CaptainHarley – I will attempt to ask this in the most respectful way possible: You have expressed that you don’t think you’ll ever be in that situation, and that you don’t want it to be an option for you. But what argument could possibly support your position that nobody should have this right?

CaptainHarley's avatar

Doors once opened are often difficult to close. Euthanasia is part of a slippery slope, opening the door to involuntary “suicide,” first of those who cannot speak for themselves and who have no one else to do so, then to those who have terminal illnesses but are unsure about suicide, then to those whose hospital costs are massive, etc.

tom_g's avatar

Let me put this in clear terms. Me and my wife both understand each other that we would not want to suffer, and would like the option to end our life in a humane way. We are fully aware of the consequences, we don’t have conflicting religious beliefs, and we would like that option. No, let me rephrase this – we should have this option.
Slippery slope arguments have an awful reputation of never being right. Never. I am not asking for anything more than the right to determine when my life should end, and be assisted in doing so in the least painful way possible. I demand this right for me, for my wife, and for my kids.
If you are so concerned about people who cannot speak for themselves, then support a sane policy that has conditions about legal documents that can be filled out by adults that state that they support this for themselves, etc. Then if the time comes and they supposedly can’t speak for themselves, their significant other and the legal document can do the trick.
Telling me that my family should not have this right because we’ll be opening the door to genocide is absurd and offensive.

Blackberry's avatar

I fully support the doctor. I just don’t understand how people think (well, they are) they can control the lives of others in this way.

CaptainHarley's avatar


I disagree. And I have no idea where you got the belief that “slippery slope arguments have an awful reputation of never being right.” Slippery slope arguments are almost always right. They said they would never use the SSAN to identify people, but now it’s used everywhere. They said abortions should be only for the first trimester, but now they have “partial birth abortions” where the baby’s head is allowed out so the surgeon can sever the brainstem. They said that the national debt was only temporary and that it would be repaid post-haste, but now it’s over 14 trillion dollars and threatens to enslave our grandchildren with debts they can never repay.

I could go on and on, but you get the point.

tom_g's avatar

You’re right. I do get the point. Years ago when Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, my heterosexual marriage fell apart, and my neighbor married a horse.

You can “disagree”, but I just want you to realize that you are in a position that you are directly denying my family rights that it feels are essential to a civil society and a free country. You will live, you will pass, but me and my kids will live (and die) with the consequences. I hope you feel confident that your political hypothesis of the outcomes of such a policy are so strong that the disadvantage of having a state that has a say in such personal matters is worth it.

tom_g's avatar

Also, I am staring at a photo of my 3 kids right now next to my desk, waiting the 2 more hours until I get to go home to see them. I really hope that they will have the opportunity to make personal decisions about their lives, bodies, and death when they get older. Otherwise, I will recommend that they go elsewhere. Maybe the US lost their wars and just doesn’t know it yet.

ratboy's avatar

If the Tea Baggers prevail, it will become a capital offense to be older than 65 and have an income below $100,000. It is immoral to allow parasites to burden those who truly deserve to live. Perhaps then the US will become more tolerant of people who don’t wish to be.

jrpowell's avatar

For those that don’t want to click around. In the 14 years we have had the law in Oregon it has only been used about 525 times. And keep in mind people move here to take advantage of our ability to painlessly die in a bed surrounded by loved ones by ingesting a few pills. In Texas it is still legal to put a gun in your mouth and make a mess.

Meego's avatar

@tom_g Don’t you think your being a tad self righteous over the whole thing? @CaptainHarley is not taking your right to freedom away and correct me if I’m wrong but if captainharley has cancer from Agent Orange Exposure then he obviously was fighting for our freedom, (I live in Canada so I’m not to sure). I honestly think I myself am somewhere in the middle of yes & no. Its sounds fine and dandy to stop the suffering but there are others around you that suffer for losing that fair? I lost my husband the hard way when his family decided to push me into making the decision to take him off of life support, to suit their plans, I believe I made the wrong choice, and he was not given the chance because of his state of suffering, but there are plenty of people who have a will to live that is greater than you can imagine. I have regrets and I have suffered for it and so has my daughter.
So I’m just saying everyone is different and captainharley had a point when saying we all deal with pain differently and it depends on the situation.
I don’t really know what I believe in this case. I’m leaning more towards go when it’s your natural time.

SuperMouse's avatar

Since I was 12 years old and watched my mother slowly waste away from cancer until she became a woman I no longer recognized, I have not understood how anyone who ever witnessed such a thing could be against euthanasia.

As for being legal in the United States, unfortunately I don’t think it will ever happen. I followed Dr. Kevorkian’s case pretty closely (for a while I counted Geoffrey Feiger as one of my heroes.). The whole debate saddens me deeply because I believe everyone should have the right to end their suffering.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Euthanasia is a personal choice of ending one’s own suffering, whether it is done voluntary or involuntary. Maybe this is where we are getting hung up.

If I were terminally ill and decided that I wanted to die sooner rather than later, I would like the choice to end my life in a painless way with my love ones at my side without having to worry about them or the administrator ending up in jail.

Currently, my will states to not keep me on artificial life support. Should I change my mind, then the preferences will be legally changed. If I end up in a situation where my mind is still active but no other physical body parts are, then I want someone to pull the plug. To me, that is dying a natural death and not euthanasia.

CaptainHarley's avatar


If you could GUARANTEE that letting someone take their own life after making an informed decision to do so because of great pain and suffering, I might go along with it. But the problem is that all of these things ( euthenasia, abortion, capital punishment, etc ) tend to degrade the value of life in general, making it far easier to justify things like death panels, witholding needed care because of cost, doing away with “non-useful people,” etc.

The road which begins with euthenasia ends at the gate with the sign “Arbiet macht frei.”

SuperMouse's avatar

@captanharley I think of this debate along the same lines I think of debating abortion and the death penalty – basically useless because neither of us will ever change our minds.

I of course disagree with your points and like @tom g tend to disagree with slippery slope arguments as well. I would never take from anyone their choice to “rage against the dying of the light” nor would I want to keep them from being able to end their suffering.

Porifera's avatar

I support euthanasia. We should have the right to call it quits if we so decide.


YARNLADY's avatar

Assisted suicide is allowed in three states. You might be interested in this article on the subject.

I am in favor of written DNR instructions, and assisted suicide under certain circumstances.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I believe that euthanasia should be legal to those who want to; not that I agree with it. As a Christian, I believe God gives life and should be the only one to take it away. I believe in euthanasia more than abortion because at least the old or terminally ill people can speak for themselves. It might effect more than them but only in the sense that who they leave will miss them not that they are directly doing something to another because of that they themselves want or not wanting to be inconvenienced.

Meego's avatar

@CaptainHarley yw.

I think many people have considered it would be easier to die than to live. But I think one of our greatest strengths is to live through the suffering. My father was a very strong man he died of cancer and never once asked to give up. My life is my strength and it is for him.

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.
Khalil Gibran

To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but through greatness of mind.

All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.
Helen Keller

nikipedia's avatar

@Meego, these are lovely sentiments, but not all suffering is going to bring meaning. Sometimes suffering is nothing more than agony shortly preceding death death, and that situation is exactly what this argument is about.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Meego If we were to become friends in the real world, I will respect your dying wishes, and I hope that you would respect mine.

This is what the debate is really about. It all comes down to the ability to choose for oneself without the legal repercussions that might put someone in jeopardy for carrying out a person’s wishes.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Yes, right up to the point where someone decides that, since aunt Ella can’t talk or even recognize anyone, it’s ok to have her euthanized. I am a Libertarian, so I have no problem with anyone wanting to take their own life. It is, after all, their life. However, death is a very permanent condition and there must be no way another person can arrange the end of life in contravention to what the one who dies might wish.

tom_g's avatar

Ok. I think I’m done here. However, @CaptainHarley, can you read what you just wrote?

“Yes, right up to the point where someone decides that, since aunt Ella can’t talk or even recognize anyone, it’s ok to have her euthanized.”
Straw man. Nobody here or anywhere has proposed this argument. I think reasonable people want to see – and this is exactly what I am saying over and over – this thing regulated so that there is definite consent. Want an example? I gave you 2 – me and my wife documenting this in an official way.

“However, death is a very permanent condition and there must be no way another person can arrange the end of life in contravention to what the one who dies might wish.”
We are in complete agreement. In no way have I or anyone else proposed anything but this.

So, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. Just some notes on my passion about this, because I have been accused of being self-righteous. This is a position I came to back in my teens. My passion comes from having kids. People who want to strip away my right to die peacefully affect me, my wife, and my kids. The passion and anger comes from a place of selfishness in a way. If someone stands in front of me and tells me that they don’t think my children are worthy of making the most personal of decisions about their lives – whether it be how they live, who they love, and how they die, I will get angry. Real angry.

Meego's avatar

@tom_g No one is stripping you of your right to choice. “People who want to strip away my right to die peacefully affect me, my wife, and my kids.” This is why I stated the self righteous bit.
Again I stated the obvious that captainharley is a veteran and fought for the rights you are speaking of, it’s kind of like an oxymoron.
The choice is yours and your wife’s I am sure your children will fight hard to follow what you have planned if you’ve raised them right.

I’m not sure how old you are but if you are young and your children are young like me I would fight as hard as I could to not die. Here in Canada they give drugs to help ease the death process which still feels a lot like assisted suicide.

Death is a touchy subject for me, my father died 10 months and 1 day before my husband died. Both were very influential roles in my life and my daughters life.

@Pied_Pfeffer Well I’m not trying to take anyone’s choices away. I am very good at the honour system, in fact probably too good.

@nikipedia You are right in a sense but if anyone should be in the dictionary with the description as to why not to use assisted suicide it should be my husband. He suffered more agony in his living life and never wanted to quit. He ended up having a severe medical illness which produced excess amounts of fluid on his brain which they did not treat correctly with weeks and weeks of high doses of prednisone he then got steroid-induced diabetes and ultimately lost his sight anyway which might as well have been suicide, he then suffered Necrotizing fasciitis from having a compromised immune system due to the steroid-induced diabetes which he survived and did not lose any part of his body. His killer ended up to be pneumonia with “complications” so they say, but actually I see they failed to look after him as he bit a hole in his airway died for 9 minutes then when they started his heart, they declared him brain dead. This was all in a span on years it was not all at the same time. Had we have made an agreement I would not of had the other years with my husband that I did have, I would of honored him if that’s what he wanted but I would of fought it because that’s just who I am and how much I loved him.

tom_g's avatar

@Meego: “No one is stripping you of your right to choice.”
Really? By choice you mean that I need to be able to off myself while I still have the energy and means to do so? We are talking about physician-assisted suicide here, right?

@Meego: “Again I stated the obvious that captainharley is a veteran and fought for the rights you are speaking of, it’s kind of like an oxymoron.”
I ignored it the last time you mentioned it because I am the last person who is going be swayed by the military card. In my humble (ok, maybe not so humble) opinion, the poor kids who were shipped out to Vietnam to die and get sick from Agent Orange did not fight for my rights. Even if I were to grant you that Vietnam was legitimate and was a fight that was fought for my freedoms, how grateful should I feel when the soldiers who fought for my rights now feel justified in restricting my freedoms?
Note: my father was seriously wounded in Vietnam (Purple Heart, etc). He now has Agent Orange-related Parkinson’s disease, as well as a life long struggle with PTSD. I have sympathy with him and the kids that were sent there. I have very little sympathy with the ruling class that cooked up that mess which resulted in 60+ thousand US deaths.

I honestly am so sorry that you have lost important people in your life. I can’t even pretend to know what you have gone through.
Everyone chooses a different path. I support the path that your husband took. I do. But I must demand that others support my right to choose a different path. You may not respect the path, but supporting my right to take that path is what human rights are about.

CaptainHarley's avatar


You seem to be missing the point. It’s not that anyone is advocating those examples NOW. It’s that by opening the door to “assisted suicide” now, we also open the door to the sorts of examples I listed, as well as much, much more. Life is already cheap enough. Let’s not cheapen it even further.

ETpro's avatar

I believe we will, assuming, of course, that we don’t destroy ourselves as a nation before we have the time to become that morally adult.

tom_g's avatar

@CaptainHarley – Are you saying that you do feel that people should have the right to end their life in a pain-free way, but you don’t support the possible future scenarios you feel are inevitable if such a right is given?
I’ll accept that as about as close to an agreement as we will get. We just happen to differ on whether human rights and progress are important enough to risk having to revisit policies down the road if there are unintended consequences.
Here in Massachusetts, straight marriages didn’t fall apart due to legalization of gay marriage. People didn’t start marrying turtles. The state didn’t fall into the Atlantic. If those things manifest, it may be time to revisit the issue. Until that time, I can sure sleep better knowing that if any of my kids meet the love of their life, and it happens to be of the same gender, they will be able to marry just like my wife and I did.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

It’s that by opening the door to “assisted suicide” The only thing different than an abortion is that one of the persons with a death sentence has a say in when and how they go, and it isn’t the unborn baby. If as a society we can kick back and say a woman who don’t want to be inconvenienced for 9 months carrying a child and bump off the kid, what is the hard in someone who can speak for themselves getting a doctor to help them, the same as a woman gets an OB GYN to help off the unborn baby? From a position of logic I see little difference, you are getting the help from a medical professional to end a live, only one life has not voice or no choice.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Yes, that is about as close as we’re going to get to an agreement. : )

ETpro's avatar

One thing I should add. I don’t think doctors should be the ones assisting with painless exits. I’d keep the medical profession always focused on saving lives, and set up a separate group of trained professionals who know how to help someone terminally ill, and with no remaining quality of life or will to fight, end it painlessly.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I really don’t know the prevailing opinion in the US well enough to comment. We almost got the discussion back on the political agenda here in Australia last year, but it was quickly thrown out thanks to back room politics. I hope it will happen eventually, but I think it will be at least another 25 years here.

@CaptainHarley Do you really believe that euthanasia legalisation would “tend to degrade the value of life in general”? Doesn’t forcing people to suffer with indignity through their final moments degrade the value of life? I think the prevailing fallacy in this argument is that good things should last as long as possible. Life is great, but it does not follow that it should last as long as we can make it last. Some things are worse than death, and I would prefer to have the option of death in the face of such illness.

I have recently watched my grandmother’s death at the hands of Alzheimer’s disease. Granted she wasn’t in pain, but I couldn’t help thinking that it would be incredibly selfish of me to wish for her to keep living in that state. Anti-euthanasia campaigns diminish individual rights in favour of the selfishness of those who can’t let go.

Now I totally respect your right and your decision to live to the natural end of your life, and I think any euthanasia laws would need to be carefully crafted to prevent abuse, but I don’t think it is humane to force people to live their final days in indignity and pain.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central while I respect your right to be against a woman’s right to chose, I take exception to your insinuating that a woman decides to terminate a pregnancy because she sees it as being “inconvenienced for nine months.” The reality is that for the vast majority of women the decision to terminate a pregnancy is one of the toughest decisions she will ever make and it will impact her for the rest of her life. You statement is degrading to women.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@SuperMouse while I respect your right to be against a woman’s right to chose, I take exception to your insinuating that a woman decides to terminate a pregnancy because she sees it as being “inconvenienced for nine months.” Show me where I can find that most of those women had health problems that would have killed them if they tried to carry a baby to birth and I will gladly retract that statement, otherwise I think the logic is clear; they just didn’t want to be bothered no matter how hard the decision was made to get there.
You statement is degrading to women. Getting ”terminated” to water it down to make it less heinous than it is is degrading to the unborn child, basically saying he/she had no more value than a spent beer can on the table and in the way.

I don’t have to agree with your opinion on it, I think when you strip away all the BS I am on the right side, but I will respect you and your opinion on it. Unlike others and many other Christians I am not going to tell you that you support murderers or that you will not get into heaven and mambo jumbo like that. On parenting I fully agree with your style, here I don’t, but don’t that make America beautiful is that we don’t have to agree lock step with each other but can still be civil in disagreeing.

Meego's avatar

I don’t think I ever said anything about not supporting. I think I even said to someone else that if you want someone who honors you I am very good at the honor system, probably too good.
I just find it rather shocking. You say “I can’t even pretend to know what you have gone through.” Think about that for your children and your wife when you make your choice on something that may be able to be changed…for example, my husband solely died because the doctors said he had severe brain damage, who says? If his family didn’t push me I would of let nature take it’s course and not pulled the plug, but I felt very cornered so I honored his family instead of our relationship. Stranger things happen, you could get hit in the head tomorrow(god forbide) and your wife and children be standing at your best side getting ready to pull the plug as I did. I respect your views. I’m just saying coming from a wife with a child miracles can happen and if I was you I would think long and hard before entering into a long term relationship with death. I see that story and think if I had of stood my ground, that could be my husband, afterall he cheated death numerous times.

I am really fine if they legalised this, I mean we do it to our pets. Years ago my choice would have been no. But now that I miss my husband tremendously I would entertain this so please don’t think I’m for or against anything…I’m neutral :) I can see all sides for what they are worth.

faye's avatar

Euthanasia happens. It’s caring doctors and families that carry it out. It doesn’t need a bunch of fanfare and publicity, it should just quietly go on. As a nurse on a palliative unit, I know I gave enough analgesic to slow respirations too much over time, if the patient had a good doctor. This is Canada.

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