Voluntary Euthanasia

Mary is the average woman living in middle America. A retired teacher, she’s looking forward to a six month retreat to Europe with her husband, John. The trip is all Mary can think about on her way to her doctor’s appointment. One week after the appointment she gets a call from the doctor asking her to come in for a visit. Nothing could prepare her for the news she was about to get: Mary has stage four cancer and only six months to live. And there is nothing that can be done except to help her slowly die in hospice.
      Although the story of Mary and John is fictitious, there are multitudes of terminal diagnoses every year and those patients are typically left with the only option of dying a painfully slow death. Shouldn’t there be another option? Voluntary active euthanasia is a topic that raises many difficult moral questions. After considering arguments for and against this practice, it can be shown that voluntary active euthanasia on a terminally ill patient with no foreseeable recovery, overseen by a qualified, willing and competent physician, is morally permissible.
      Under the right circumstances voluntary active euthanasia is permissible because the autonomy of the individual allows him or her to decide whether extreme pain and suffering is a condition that he or she wishes to endure (Brock, 75). Autonomy is defined as the right of self government or personal freedom. Every person has the right to make personal and private decisions as referred to in the American Constitution. Since death is the most personal of all things, individuals should then have the right to dictate when they die and under what circumstances. To deny people the choice of death by voluntary active euthanasia is to force them to do something that may be against their will and could prolong their suffering and compromise their dignity (Brock, 75).
      Death should be with dignity but modern medicine has prevented nature from running its natural course. Disallowing patients to...