Active voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide should be legalized. Moral, religious, and ethical objections are ungrounded. The patient's life should belong in his or her hands. Patients cannot be forced to live a life that is meaningless. .
According to Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary euthanasia is defined as "the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy" (401). Euthanasia is Greek meaning "good death.".
In Ezekiel Emanuel's article Death's Door," he quoted Samuel William's 1870 speech before the Birmingham Speculative Club. "[I]n all cases of hopeless and painful illness it should be the recognized duty of the medical attendant, whenever so desired by the patient, to administer chloroform so as to destroy consciousness at once, and put the sufferer to a quick and painless death." Williams was one of the first in modern times to present the argument for euthanasia (15).
Julian Savulescu quotes Justice Benjamin Cardozo's comments from the 1914 case of Schloendorff vs. New York Hospital. "Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body" (Egendorf 35).
The debate over whether euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide should be legalized, has been raging for many years. Recently, many states have passed acts banning physician-assisted suicide. The state of Oregon, however, has done the opposite. In 1998 the "Death With Dignity Act" was passed. Courtney Campbell explains Oregon's radical legislation in her article "Give Me Liberty and Death." The purpose of this act is to provide terminal patients with the right to die by lethal injection, to provide immunity to physicians who aid a patient in their death, and to regulate the practice of euthanasia (498).
In Yale Kamisar's article "The Future of Physician-Assisted Suicide" he explains a patient's constitutional rights.