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Euthanasia and the Right to Die

  • Date Submitted: 02/26/2013 06:20 PM
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Euthanasia and the Right to Die

Jeremiah Weaver

The University of Oklahoma

HR 5113: Toward a Global Ethic: A Dialogue with the World's Religions

      ‘Suicide’ is a term fraught with negative meanings.   The word conjures up images of depressed, sad, angry, or desperate individuals throwing themselves from buildings or shooting themselves. At its most basic level, suicide is simply the voluntary killing of oneself. Assisted suicide is the voluntary killing of oneself with the assistance of another. The assistance is usually defined as pharmaceutical assistance, where a physician prescribes a lethal dose of medicine which the patient then administers to himself. Euthanasia is the process of a physician administering the lethal dose of medicine to the patient instead of the patient administering it to herself. There is a fierce debate within the public sector and within various religions over the practice of assisted suicide and how it is distinguished from non-assisted suicide.
      Religions view suicide differently. The Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam condemn the practice as a variation of the sin of murder for which the practitioner has no chance to atone, “Thou shall not kill“ is Christianity‘s ultimatum, and many consider suicide to be an act of murder. On the other hand, Hindus accept an individual’s right to die provided that the individual has no remaining responsibilities in the world and who are tormented by terminal disease or have no ambition remaining to live. If one is to seriously respect the right of other individuals to live their life as they see fit, then one must respect the right of an individual to die as they see fit too.
      However, when an individual commits suicide, that individual is not the only one affected. Family members and friends lose an important strand in the web that forms their lives. Dependents of the passed...


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