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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/1203852
Rated: 13+ · Essay · Philosophy · #1203852
...weighing the effectiveness of pro and con arguments...the topic is euthanasia.....
Author's note:  This is a LONG READ, but if you have interest in this subject, I'd appreciate your comments on how to make points more clearly and susinctly.  Can you tell me what comes across as well expressed, and what needs fising and why or how?

This genre is academic writing, such as a college assignment for philosophy, logic and reasoning, critical thinking, and applied agrumentative models and fallacies.  I need to submit this on Saturday, January 27th, and would appreciate your help in editing this to make it as good as possible.

If this is totally not of interest to you, thanks for the click.  You might want to check out a fiction skills workshop prompt for this month at: 
 Believable Fiction Workshop 1  (E)
Intro and first prompt for the 2007 workshop series, "Believable Fiction".
#1206854 by a sunflower in Texas


All are welcome at the workshop.

Only the bold venture forth into this manuscript, if you dare...I'd really appreciate it *Smile*




Comparing Arguments for Effectiveness

Euthanasia:  Pro and Con Argument Models, and Fallacies



         Euthanasia is defined as the killing of a terminally ill individual, who wants to die because of his physical pain and degrading living conditions that denigrate the patient’s human dignity.  Those who suffer from a disease with no cure can only await death, while family members and friends watch and wait, sharing the emotional pain of the dying process.  The debate continues with other possible options to suffering continuing pain until the final peace of death comes.  If a society has the best interests of its citizens in mind, it would be possible, under certain conditions, for the culture to accept physician assisted suicides, which hasten the death of the terminally ill.  Although euthanasia seeks a “good death”, seeks to bring about a compassionate death, it is difficult to rationalize the ethics and morals of killing, a law against the natures of man and God.  By investigating the pro and con arguments of euthanasia, this paper will investigate which argument has more merit, based on argument models and fallacies.

         Euthanasia may cause death by passive means, such as removing medical care or medical machinery that has been keeping a person alive.  Passive euthanasia might include, for example, removing a ventilator that has been responsible for keeping the patient breathing.  When breathing stops, the other life functions will also soon stop, resulting in death.  Terri Schiavo died within a few days of the removal of her feeding tube, when the US Court System reviewed applicable laws and evaluated her situation.  Whether or not she was in a PVS, or persistent vegetative state, is a moot point of argument between the patient’s parents and husband.  Media attention around the Schiavo case did, however, encourage many people to prepare their own “Directive to Physicians”, which advises when a doctor should cease to administer medications which prolong life.  When medical assistance is withdrawn in terminal cases, death follows quickly.

         Active euthanasia requires an additional action in the routine treatment.  Oral or injected pharmaceuticals are administered as a “lethal cocktail”.  With the help of a physician, the dying patient would receive a written prescription and directions for taking the drugs so that death comes quickly (5 – 30 minutes) and painlessly.  The narcotic overdose causes body systems to shut down and the dying person appears to just fall asleep.  In the two-dose administration option, the patient has a thirty minute time period while the drugs are taking effect so he can say his goodbyes to family and friends, and prepare mentally and spiritually for his death.  Only the Dutch and the state of Oregon in the United States have legislation that allows euthanasia.

         “Dr. Death” is the label that two physicians have earned from their activities surrounding those who have requested euthanasia.  Dr. Jack Kevorkian reportedly assisted in over 130 deaths in the US since the 1990s.  Kevorkian was convicted of second-degree murder in assisting with the suicide of terminally ill Mr. Thomas Youk, age 52, who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Kevorkian, now age 78, served a portion of his sentence of 10 to 25 years in prison.  At his first opportunity for parole, Kevorkian assured the board that he would assist in no more suicides, and the doctor thereby gained freedom from his imprisonment.  He has now deserted the cause of euthanasia (www.ireland.com).  Arguments against euthanasia for the terminally ill are mainly based on beliefs and cultural traditions which exist in many societies of the world.  Many believe in the divine and spiritual directing power of a higher authority, whether He is called God or Allah.  This being directs the universe: the Pope directs and maintains a strong authority and influence over Italian politics.  The Vatican’s stance has always been opposed to euthanasia, insisting that “life must be safeguarded from its absolute beginning to its natural end” (www.chicagotribune.com/features/health/chi-0612230145dec23,1,368003,print.story).  Roman Catholic doctrine is always pro-life, with no exceptions ever considered for anyone under any special circumstances.  The taking of a life is murder, and murder is morally and ethically wrong.

         Euthanasia is murder, and euthanasia is morally and ethically wrong because it places the premeditated action of a human above that of the Creator of our universe.  If we set a time and place for a death, we are playing God.  The Bible clearly states in the commandments given to Moses and his people, “Thou shalt not kill”.  When Catholics commit suicide they are not able to have the deceased’s remains and soul blessed, nor have their family and friends comforted by words from priests and other clergy.  The body and soul of the person who has killed himself is spurned and rejected by Roman Catholic Church.  He has wasted his soul, lost his soul, by suicide.  Though not every country is guided by the teachings of Catholicism, in many countries persons who seek to euthanize themselves with the aid of a medical person, are likely to face consequences befitting the act of murder, and the assisting in a murder.  When prosecuted, sentences in Europe have been as long as 15 years.  Euthanasia is a religious and a legal matter. 

              In Chinese orphanages, newborns and small frail bodies are strapped down to beds and chairs, and further descriptions tell of inhumane conditions as orphans await death because they are guilty of the crime of being born in excess of the family’s limit.  Either fate for these newborn seems unethical and immoral to me, based on my culture and my beliefs about life.  The Groningen guidelines are “based on singling out infants based on somebody else’s assessment of their quality of life”, according to Stephen Drake, a research analyst for the US based organization called “Not Dead Yet”.  Andrew Caplan, a professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, would not expect these procedures to unfold as law in the United States.  “It’s not acceptable to the culture,” he said (www.nytimes.com…). 

                Similarly, Dr. Phillip Nitschke of Australia has faced government intervention in his quest to assist the terminally ill in committing suicide.  Dr. Nitschke’s “suicide machine” cost about $20,000 to develop and build.  The machine works by allowing the user to die peacefully while taking a few deep breaths of lethal carbon monoxide thorough an attached nasal tube (www.smh.au/articles/2003/01/10/1041990095780.html).  Despite his enthusiasm to present his machine to a US medical conference, federal government custom agents at the Sydney Airport confiscated Nitschke’s death machine in 2003, postponing his “demonstration” of the machine.  Euthanasia in the guise of Dr. Death may present an option for the terminally ill, who exist in a wasting body, with a fading mind, as they wait for the peace that only death can bring.  Perhaps because of the great medical advances in the past century, medical professionals and individual citizens living in any country in the world, should investigate the legality and cultural acceptance of euthanasia for the terminally ill and state preferences for themselves in writing, and signed by a witness or two.  Although the laws of a country are difficult to change, there are legally prepared documents like the “Directive to Physicians” which states what the person would like done if he is not capable of expressing his wishes about his own health care.  Perhaps because of the great advances in medical knowledge and treatment in the past 100 years, our medical profession needs an exception to the Hippocratic Oath.  Doctors can lengthen the quantity of time a person spends on earth, but the issue of “quality life” has yet to be resolved.

         “The Wall Street Journal”, editorial page of the April 28, 2001, European edition, presents both pro and con arguments for euthanasia based on an article entitled “The Dutch Way of Death” (www.opinionjournal.com/forms/printThis.html?id=95000390) which includes arguments of logos, ethos, and pathos.  A report by the attorney general of the High Council of the Netherlands stated that of the 130,000 Dutch who died in 1990, their doctors assisted 11,800 in death.  This is evidence that terminally ill patients have participated and benefited from legalized euthanasia in the Netherlands. 

                    Social pressures grow in the Netherlands where arguments against euthanasia for the terminally ill are mainly based on  beliefs and cultural traditions which exist in many societies of the world.  Many believe in the divine and spiritual directing power of a higher authority, whether He is called God or Allah.  This being directs the universe: the Pope directs and maintains a strong authority and influence over Italian politics.  The Vatican’s stance has always been opposed to euthanasia, insisting that “life must be safeguarded from its absolute beginning to its natural end” (www.chicagotribune.com/features/health/chi-0612230145dec23,1,368003,print.story).  Roman Catholic doctrine is always pro-life, with no exceptions ever considered for anyone under any special circumstances.  The taking of a life is murder, and murder is morally and ethically wrong.

         Euthanasia is murder, and euthanasia is morally and ethically wrong because it places the premeditated action of a human above that of the Creator of our universe.  If we set a time and place for a death, we are playing God.  The Bible clearly states in the commandments given to Moses and his people, “Thou shalt not kill”.  When Catholics commit suicide they are not able to have the deceased’s remains and soul blessed, nor have their family and friends comforted by words from priests and other clergy.  The body and soul of the person who has killed himself is spurned and rejected by Roman Catholic Church.  He has wasted his soul, lost his soul, by suicide.  Though not every country is guided by the teachings of Catholicism, in many countries persons who seek to euthanize themselves with the aid of a medical person, are likely to face consequences befitting the act of murder, and the assisting in a murder.  When prosecuted, sentences in Europe have been as long as 15 years.  Euthanasia is a religious and a legal matter. 

                In Chinese orphanages, newborns and small frail bodies are strapped down to beds and chairs, and further descriptions tell of inhumane conditions as orphans await death because they are guilty of the crime of being born in excess of the family’s limit.  Either fate for these newborn seems unethical and immoral to me, based on my culture and my beliefs about life.  The Groningen guidelines are “based on singling out infants based on somebody else’s assessment of their quality of life”, according to Stephen Drake, a research analyst for the US based organization called “Not Dead Yet”.  Andrew Caplan, a professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, would not expect these procedures to unfold as law in the United States.  “It’s not acceptable to the culture,” he said (www.nytimes.com…). 

              Dutch doctors see poster messages on walls, pointing out the expenses of caring for the terminally ill-- which is carried by the nation’s taxpayers.  “The path to the death culture began when doctors learned to think like accountants”, says Richard Miniter (www.opinionjournal.com).  There are presently 36 different organizations, in 21 different countries, whose mission is to provide information and assistance in finding help about euthanasia (www.opinionjournal.com…).  As a society, we possess the ability to ease the perceived suffering of a terminally ill person.  However, when we kill for mercy’s sake, is compassion the justification for murder?  Legalized euthanasia in the Netherlands has come to prove the theories of some slippery-slope fallacies in the reasoning of arguments for euthanasia.

         The term slippery slope refers to one event, which causes an undesirable and uncontrollable chain of events to happen thereafter.  Since the Dutch have legalized euthanasia, older men and women in the country are afraid to go to the hospital.  They are afraid of “being killed by their doctor without their consent” (www.opinionjournal.com…).  The Dutch government has not released many statistical data reports regarding deaths and euthanasia since legalization.  Doctors and other pioneers in the Dutch medical profession claim they work in the open now, without fear of government intervention.  Problems, very serious problems, exist in their present system.  However, the medical community is active and prepared for discussions that will bring solutions to their problems.  The Dutch medical community says it has legalized and implemented practices done routinely, but secretly, for many years.  However, in order to protect the right to life, one concerned Dutch senior citizen group has printed wallet cards, telling doctors that the cardholder opposes euthanasia.  Essayist Malcolm Muggeridge noted with dismay and concern that “it took us one generation to transfer a war crime [Hitler’s eugenics programs during the Holocaust exterminated over 7 million Jews] into an act of tender and loving compassion.  Where is the logic?

              Other fallacies that weaken the pro-euthanasia argument include examples of equivocation, false analogies (euthanize pets, but not people), division (not all the terminally ill wish to die), and composition (linking terminal individuals with those suffering from other different debilitating diseases such as Muscular Dystrophy and Spina Bifida).  Hasty and sweeping generalizations often surface as catch phrases on both sides of the debate, designed to ignite emotion, the ethos of the euthanasia argument.  This is not a topic subject to bifurcation, meaning, “you’re totally with me, or you’re totally against me”.  The debate over euthanasia is many shades of gray, and people who investigate will find their own are of comfort.  The debate over euthanasia requires that each situation, or request for euthanasia submitted to the government, be investigated, analyzed, and the individual counseled to make sure he knows what he is doing.  Euthanasia is not usually a topic with sweeping generalizations, excluding the many slippery slope predictions.  Each human’s situation, and each human being, deserves respect, recognition, worth, and consideration as a sentient human being. 

              However, Dr. Eduard Verhagan of the University Medical Center in Groningen, the Netherlands, has prepared a set of guidelines called the Groningen Protocol.  It applies the euthanasia philosophy of granting an easy death to the newborn children who are malformed, underdeveloped, and/or for some reason have been born with a huge physical disability, as well.  Those babies considered for euthanasia have no chance of surviving into childhood, and would face daily pain, expensive medical treatments, and family hardships (www.nytimes.com/2005/03/10/health/10baby.html).          The Groningen protocol is currently used only in the Netherlands.

              However, it seems to me that the terminally ill aged patient expecting death is not in the same situation as a newborn, carried to the slaughter like a lamb (pathos).  Dr. Verhagan says this extension of euthanasia to newborns is “not about preparedness or joy at ending life”.  “If you end the lives of children, you must be prepared to be accountable”.  Having researched the situation, we deduced that “this approach suits our legal and social culture . . .  but it is unclear to what extent our conclusions would apply to other nations”.  Andrew Caplan, a professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, said he would not expect these procedures to unfold as law in the United States.  “It’s not acceptable to the culture,” Caplan said (www.nytimes.com…).

                The euthanizing of newborns is not a procedure that I personally would advocate, nor would I want to include that area of medical concern with the original thesis on euthanasia.  Such graphic information about killing newborns might put some people off the idea of euthanasia entirely.  Some might consider this a reason to stay away from an unpleasant subject, and many people do.  Movies encouraging discussions about physician-assisted suicide show a group of friends, one of whom seeks to end a painful existence.  “Letting Him Down: making the euthanasia decision easier” was written, filmed, and produced by the Dutch Society for a Voluntary Ending of Life in order to encourage discussion between patients and their doctors.  The Spanish film, “Mar Adentro (or The Sea Inside)”, is based on the true life of Ramon Sampedro, a quadriplegic who decided after 30 years that he wanted to end his life.  Director Alejandro Amenabar says he wanted to show Sampedro’s daily life, holding a pen with his teeth in order to write, and only able to smoke a cigarette if someone picked it up and put it to his mouth.  He was taped in 1998, drinking poison and making his final statement:  “You have liberated me from the most humiliating of slaveries, being a live head stuck to a dead body” (www.cnn.com/2005/SHOWBIZ/Movies/03/23/spain.film/index.html). 

              Arguments against euthanasia for the terminally ill are mainly based on beliefs and cultural traditions that exist in many societies of the world.  Many believe in the divine and spiritual directing power of a higher authority, whether He is called God or Allah.  This being directs the universe: the Pope directs and maintains a strong authority and influence over Italian politics.  The Vatican’s stance has always been opposed to euthanasia, insisting that “life must be safeguarded from its absolute beginning to its natural end” (www.chicagotribune.com/features/health/chi-0612230145dec23,1,368003,print.story).  Roman Catholic doctrine is always pro-life, with no exceptions ever allowed for anyone under any special circumstances whatsoever.  The taking of a life is murder, and murder is morally and ethically wrong.

         Euthanasia is murder, and euthanasia is morally and ethically wrong because it places the premeditated action of a human above that of the Creator of our universe.  If we set a time and place for a death, we are playing God.  The Bible clearly states in the commandments given to Moses and his people, “Thou shalt not kill”.  When Catholics commit suicide they are not able to have the deceased’s remains and soul blessed, nor have their family and friends comforted by words from priests and other clergy.  The body and soul of the person who has killed himself is spurned and rejected by Roman Catholic Church.  He has wasted his soul, lost his soul, by suicide.  Though not every country is guided by the teachings of Catholicism, in many countries persons who seek to euthanize themselves with the aid of a medical person, are likely to face consequences befitting the act of murder, and the assisting in a murder.  When prosecuted, sentences in Europe have been as long as 15 years.  Euthanasia is a religious and a legal matter. 

              In Chinese orphanages, newborns and small frail bodies are strapped down to beds and chairs, and further descriptions tell of inhumane conditions as orphans await death because they are guilty of the crime of being born in excess of the family’s limit.  Either fate for these newborn seems unethical and immoral to me, based on my culture and my beliefs about life.  The Groningen guidelines are “based on singling out infants based on somebody else’s assessment of their quality of life”, according to Stephen Drake, a research analyst for the US based organization called “Not Dead Yet”.  Andrew Caplan, a professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, would not expect these procedures to unfold as law in the United States.  “It’s not acceptable to the culture,” he said (www.nytimes.com…). 

         Piergiorgio Welby was 60 when his respirator was disconnected, allowing him to die on December 23, 2006, in Rome, Italy.  Welby had been afflicted with degenerative disease muscular dystrophy, and had waged a long campaign that included writing a book called Let Me Die, and writing to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano pleading to be disconnected from his mechanical ventilator so he could “find peace for his tortured and shattered body” (www.italianalmanac.org/06dec/Welby.bis.htm).  For months, he lay in bed, unable to speak, eat, or breathe by himself.  He campaigned for the needs of the terminally ill, “both for himself and many other ill people. . . who would have this problem at the end of their lives”.  The Catholic Church in Rome denied Welby a religious funeral because of “his public wishes to end his life as a willful suicide”.

              “I don’t know with what words we will tell his mother that she can’t hold a funeral for her son in church”, said his widow, Mina Welby.  “Pieto died naturally, falling asleep, and giving back his soul to the Creator” (www.chicagotribune.com).  To be denied the comfort of religious traditions, and sharing beliefs and grief with friends and relatives, one might wonder about the role love plays in human lives and religious organizations.  Italian legislators must now address a contradiction in the wording of Italian laws.  A patient has the right to refuse treatment, but there is no law that could force a doctor to take measures that would lead to a patient’s death, even at the patient’s request.

              Other governing bodies in other countries are discussing possible changes in current laws to allow euthanasia for terminal patients under certain circumstances, when meeting special requirements.  The debate between pro and con euthanasia legalization for the terminally ill is still developing and evolving in public debate.

         Many different fallacies have appeared in the argument against euthanasia.  Both sides incite appeals to fear, emotion, generalizing, and begging the question.  The well has been poisoned with media labels like “Dr. Death”.  Sometimes, it seems the middle is excluded from euthanasia debate, because it is those persons who are experiencing extreme life and death situations that speak up and voice their concerns to the media.

                Any conclusions drawn from recently collected Dutch data would probably prove to be based on an unrepresentative sample.  There are as many questions and fallacies in the euthanasia debate as there are individuals who are interested in learning more about euthanasia in their own country.  Those who argue for euthanasia cannot appeal to common practice.  Worldwide most individuals value life as a unique personal commodity.  Cultures and nations will continue to weigh the merits of facts and opinions until the medical profession, the government, and a majority of the people in a democratic country reach a consensus.  In the future, some governments will enact legislation with a strong euthanasia model to follow.  By involving medical and psychiatric professionals in observation, documentation, evaluation, verification, and patient discussions, the Dutch government feels they are positively influencing this brave new world.

                Both sides of this argument seem, in my opinion, to have strong merits.  The newspaper articles and other research information did not use especially inflammatory language, and most did attempt to present the general argument of the opposing side, presenting a fair, though biased, perspective.  The weight of evidence—arguments of logos, pathos and ethos—falls to the side of personal convictions about what is right and what is wrong.  One’s final stance in the euthanasia debate depends on the depth and passion of your own religious understandings, secured by your faith and your own personal guidelines and philosophies for living a good life. 

WC      2,901

   


         
Reference List




Ariel, David.  (Dec. 23, 2006).  “Rome Vicar Denies Rites in Case Over
          Euthanasia”.  Retrieved 01/18/07 from                                                                                                                          <http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/health/chi-0612230145dec23,1,368003.print.story>.


Bradley, Michael.  (Jan. 11, 2003).  “Civil Rights Groups Fight for    Nitschke”.  Retrieved 01/21/07 from <http://www.smh.au/articles/2003/01/101041990095780.html>.


“Euthanasia Advocate Kevorkian Paroled”.  (Dec. 13, 2006).  Retrieved 01/19/07 from <http://www.ireland.com>. 


Henry, Ray.  (Dec. 23, 2006).  “Catholics Look for Guidance in Maze of End-of-Life Issues”.  Retrieved 01/12/2007 from <http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/health/chi-0612230145dec23,1,368003.print.story>.


“Italian News”.  (Dec. 06, 2006).  Retrieved 01/21/07 from
<http://www.italianalmanac.org/06dec/Welby.bis.htm>.


Miniter, Richard.  (April 28, 2001).  “The Dutch Way of Death”.  Retrieved 01/19/07 from <http://www.opinionjournal.com/forms/printThis.html?id=95000390>.


O’Neill, Ann.  (March 23, 2005).  “Experts Discuss Ethics of Ending Life”.  Retrieved 01/21/07 from <http://www.cnn.com/2005SHOWBIZ/MOVIES/03/23/spain.film/index.html>.


Sanminiatelli, Maria.  (Dec. 22, 2006).  “Italian Law Tangles Right-to-Die End”.  Retrieved 01/20/07 from <http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/health/chi-06122006dec22,1,6270841,print.story>.


Schwartz, John.  (March  10, 2005).  “When Torment Is Baby’s Destiny, Euthanasia is Defended”.  Retrieved 01/21/07 from <http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/10/health/10baby.html?ex=1169442000&en=2ffb7324853bc978&ei=5070>.

Please send your comments to patrice@writing.com.  Thanks for reading.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   


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