The subject of death has been a very controversial topic for decades. The debate is whether or not people should be able to choose death or if death should only take place naturally. In this essay I will discuss three controversial issues that all include death as the end result. These issues include abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty. In the United States, the morals of each person differ tremendously, which is what makes coming to an agreement on these issues so difficult. I will discuss my views on the topic of death itself and further discuss each issue in detail. While discussing these three issues, I will argue that since death is a reasonable escape when the quality of life is decreased, we must support abortion, support euthanasia, and support capital punishment.
Many of those who oppose abortion rely on the premise that the fetus is a human being from the moment of conception. They agree that the woman has a right to decide what happens to and in her body, but when the fetus’ life is at stake, the life of the fetus takes priority. Judith Jarvis Thomson states in the reading, “A Defense of Abortion”, “Opponents of abortion commonly spend most of their time establishing that the fetus is a person, and hardly any time explaining the step from there to the impermissibility of abortion.” Most of the arguments you hear against abortion claim that taking a human life is unacceptable, but they don’t go far beyond that and discuss why taking the human life is unacceptable. For the sake of argument, Thomson accepts that the fetus is an innocent human being with the right to live. Her claim is that, “killing a human being is not always wrong.” I assume many people would agree that ending the life of the fetus is not the ideal solution. But, there are many reasons abortion should be an option for women. It is not always the case that the woman who ended up pregnant chose to partake in the sexual activity. The woman may have been raped and therefore, the pregnancy was completely out of her control. In this case the woman should have the option to abort the child if she wishes. By forcing the woman to carry a child she does not wish to have, it is not only decreasing the mother’s quality of life, but it is also decreasing the child’s quality of life as well. In other situations the mother may not be financially or emotionally ready to raise a child, in these cases she is sparing the child the future suffering of being raised by a mother who cannot support him or her. In this case, having the child is also decreasing the quality of life of both the mother and the child. The mother will have to sacrifice things in her life in order to provide for the child, and the child will grow up in an unstable environment with his mother financially and emotionally struggling. And lastly, undergoing a nine-month pregnancy may be detrimental to a woman’s health. She may not be physically able to carry the baby and survive the delivery. Thomson states that in this case, it would be generous of the woman to carry the baby to term anyways, but she is by no means obligated to do so. The woman would not be threatening the quality of her life but sacrificing her very life for that of her child. These three examples all prove that we should make abortion legally accessible to all women. These three issues prove that when the quality of the child or mother’s life is decreased, death is a reasonable escape.
Euthanasia is another topic that is very controversial. Most states in the U.S. have deemed euthanasia to be illegal because it is a form of suicide. I believe euthanasia should be an option for people that are experiencing a great amount of suffering in their lives. Many of us are lucky enough to be able to say that we have not suffered excessively. But on the other hand there are people who struggle to get through each day because of the physical, emotional, or mental pain they are in. I believe these people should be able to end their lives peacefully rather than having to suffer until they take their last breathe. John Hardwig states in the reading, “Is There a Duty to Die?”, “…the individualistic fantasy leads us to assume that the patient is the only one affected by decisions of her medical treatment.” The individual in need of medical treatment is not the only one affected by his or her sickness. If they are not able to care for themselves they are putting that duty on others. In order to make life easier for those around them and spare themselves the constant decreasing quality of life, they should have the option to take their own life in a painless way. Euthanasia allows people to go peacefully and die with dignity. This is another example of the quality of life being decreased and death being a reasonable way to escape the trauma.
And lastly, capital punishment is acceptable in order to help maintain a safe society for innocent citizens. Many people believe that sentencing capital murderers to death is contradictory. “How can we punish murderers by murdering them?” These people believe that this is a vicious cycle and the murderers are not taught a lesson by being put to death. I completely disagree with these thoughts. In “The Ultimate Punishment: A Defense”, Ernest Van Den Haag states that murdering and executing are two completely different things. I could not agree more. Murdering is the act of a criminal killing an innocent person. Executing is ending the life of a convicted murderer and bringing him justice for the lives that he took. “Murder is unlawful and undeserved, whereas execution is lawful and deserved punishment for an unlawful act.” There are 20,000 homicides in the United States each year. Some of these murderers killed innocent citizens and then also killed or attempted to kill police officers that worked in the jail in which they were detained. This shows that even though criminals may be detained for the rest of their lives that does not always ensure that they will refrain from hurting others while they are behind bars. In order to keep the police officers and other members of the jail safe, we need to sentence capital murderers to death. Van Den Haag also states in the reading that by committing a capital crime you are voluntarily assuming the risk. People are aware that the death penalty is a possible punishment and by committing the crime anyways, they are accepting the possible death sentence. In order to protect our citizens we must sentence capital murderers to death to prevent them from hurting anyone else. “Sparing the lives of prospective victims is more important than the lives of murderers.” Murderers are decreasing the quality of life of those that surround them by causing people to live in fear of being hurt, because of this, death is a reasonable way to end the trauma.
As you can see, although death is not always the ideal solution, it is completely necessary is some cases. Each person should have complete control of their body unless they are inflicting harm upon others and decreasing the quality of life of those that surround them. If a woman wants to end her pregnancy, she should have the right to do so. If a person wants to put a stop to their constant suffering and end their life in a peaceful way, they should also have the right to do so. And lastly, capital murderers should be put to death because they are decreasing the quality of life of those that surround them. When the quality of life is being threatened, death is a viable option.
 “A Defense of Abortion” – Judith Jarvis Thomson
 “The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia” – J. Gay-Williams
 “Is There a Duty to Die?” – John Hardwig
 “The Ultimate Punishment: A Defense” – Ernest Van Den Haag
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