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Euthanasia

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Articles, Essays...
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By: Yalda Mahmoudi
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We don’t have any say in whether we want to be born or not and I think we should have a say in whether we want to live life or not. The movie “Who’s Life is it Anyways?” is a very good example of someone’s desire to not continue living. Mr. Harrison, who was in a very serious car accident, was taken to a hospital, where he had numerous surgeries done on his legs, chest and back. After being in coma for 30 hours, he wakes up realizing that he has lost both of his kidneys, as well as being paralyzed from neck down due to his spinal injury. After being in the hospital for an extended period of time and going through dialysis, he has now decided that he wants to leave the hospital, fully understanding that it will result in his death.

He has decided not to die on a hospital bed and is being tortured by the thoughts of what is to become of him. He wants to finish his life in his own terms. He wants the hospital to give him the choice of what he wants to do with his own livelihood. His passion was his work, where he had the opportunity to put his creative mind and body to work; now, the body was gone and the creative mind was becoming his worst enemy. He completely understands his situation and is reacting as any normal individual would to a very bad situation. He is not depressed, as suggested by one of the doctors, because he is able to laugh, make jokes and even be sarcastic about the way things are unfolding. 

Having lived with a severely depressed brother for 5 years, I have a pretty good understanding of how depressed people look, feel and say. I know that they wouldn’t be able to make a joke, if their life depended on it. The looks in their eyes are very sad and evident of the problems that they have within themselves and their environment. Kenneth Harrison was very alert to his surrounding and was fully conscious of what he was asking and what the outcome would be. 

The hospital, on the other hand, has a different view from Mr. Harrison’s. They don’t want to release him, because that would lead to his death. Doctors are just doing their job and being good doctors, as well as honoring their Hippocratic Oath, which clearly indicates that they have to “benefit the sick” and “abstain from whatever harmful and mischievous acts” letting Mr. Harrison leave the hospital would be harmful. One doctor, with no background in psychology, thought that he was depressed and that is why Mr. Harrison is deciding to die. But his testimony and belief were very biased; he had no real facts to prove that he was depressed and he was basing his judgment on his 18 years of experience as a doctor. Dr. Robert Berrows, who was a consulting psychologist, testified that Mr. Harrison was not depressed and the lack of his appetite and bad sleeping patterns was simply due to the gravity of his accident. He disagreed with the other doctor about his psychological well being, but agreed with them about the fact that Mr. Harrison was making the wrong choice.

“Nobody has the right to decide my life is worth less than yours, [or more]” (Rachel 9). If I were a judge in this case, I would have let the patient leave the hospital and spend the last days of their lives the way the really want. But, I would make this judgment under one condition that I knew for fact that the patient was in a normal state of mind and was not making this decision based on depression. I have seen people, who have gone through dialysis, and I have seen the pain they go through every time. It is almost killing them 3 times a week and bringing them back to life. The physical pain they have to go through is shocking and the emotional pain is astonishing.

I would put myself in their shoes and I would not want to die hooked to a machine, incapable of taking care of myself and constantly wondering, when the day would come that I would not go through this pain anymore. I think when a person has made peace with death and has decided to die; they have killed themselves right than and there. Because they have given up hope and goals, human beings wouldn’t have much if they did not have hope and goals. Living and being alive are two different things. An individual could be alive as a means of their heart pumping and their brain working, but it really does not mean that they are living. A person, who is living, is capable of making cognitive choices, has goals, dreams and is working hard to achieve those needs.

In this particular case, I don’t believe that the doctors were playing “God”; they were not the ones killing. They were not really asked to assist a death. They were asked to do nothing, which is even harder in this case. Letting people to chose when they want to die is a very slippery slope. I would draw the line at, making it illegal to assist individuals to end their own lives. But, I would let people practice their freedom of choice right till their last breath, considering that they are in a normal state of mind. This might be a very selfish way of looking at this matter, allowing people to die on their own as long as I have nothing to with it. But to be completely honest, it makes the most sense to me at this stage of my life. Because if assisting suicide was allowed than who is to say if there was a good reason for it or not? What if the situation could have been prevented? I would think, that life would be come worthless, because as soon as things would get though physically or emotionally, the weaker individuals would give up and think of ending their lives, now with a help of friend.

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