What does the word “mercitron” sound like? Perhaps a toy, or maybe some sort of machine. Despite its name, the Mercitron was a machine that allowed a patient to self-administer a lethal dose of drugs with a click of a button, and was invented by Jack Kevorkian, one of the first advocates of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (“Suicide”). Euthanasia, meaning “good death”, is the act of painlessly causing the death of an individual with a terminal illness or in an irreversible coma (“Euthanasia.” World of Health). Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide both consist of a strong element of questionable medical ethics subject to the criticisms of society, although they are also supported by many.
Euthanasia has various classifications, and can differ drastically based on the individual patient (“Euthanasia.” Issues). Active euthanasia is when someone, such as a doctor, performs and action that ends a life, while passive euthanasia is when someone does not, such as the omission of a life-preserving action (Encyclopedia). Indirect euthanasia, which includes physician-assisted suicide, is when the patient takes the step that induces death, and usually is brought about by an act like a clinician prescribing a lethal dose of a drug. Direct euthanasia, currently illegal in the United States, is when the death is caused by a physician, and is separated into three categories: voluntary being with a patient’s consent, nonvoluntary when the patient is incapable of making the decision and is therefore euthanized without consent or knowledge (such as a mentally ill patient), and involuntary when the patient chooses to live, yet is euthanized despite their decision. Euthanasia is a polar topic, as supporters see it as a final form of mercy or a Constitutional right, while those opposed view it as murder and often cite religious sources (“Euthanasia.” Issues).
There are several reasons that patient’s request euthanasia. Many diseases are incurable, such as metastatic and terminal cancer. These patients manage painful symptoms and intense suffering, which ends in death (Encyclopedia). A majority of patients in Oregon who died after injecting a lethal dose of medicated had a primary diagnosis of cancer (“Suicide”). Many want to take matters into their own hands (Encyclopedia). Also, a lessening of being able to participate in enjoyable activities and the loss of autonomy or dignity are considered major reasons (Physician). The patients may have a perception of self as a burden, or a fear of a bad death. Some wish to control the circumstances of their death, and die at home, while others are worried about a future poor quality of life, or pain (“The End”).
Throughout the years, there have been many supporters of euthanasia. One was Derek Humphry, who founded the Hemlock Society in 1980, which in 2003 became known as “End-of-Life Choices”, an organization that advocates for legislation that would allow Americans to choose a dignified death and informs...