Sometimes Choosing Death is Necessary

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. 

[1] “A Defense of Abortion” – Judith Jarvis Thomson

http://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/Phil160,Fall02/thomson.htm

[2] “The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia” – J. Gay-Williams

http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/socialsciences/ppecorino/MEDICAL_ETHICS_TEXT/Chapter_10_Care_of_the_Dying/READING_Gay_Williams.htm

[3] “Is There a Duty to Die?” – John Hardwig

http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/socialsciences/ppecorino/MEDICAL_ETHICS_TEXT/Chapter_10_Care_of_the_Dying/READING_Gay_Williams.htm

[4] “The Ultimate Punishment: A Defense” – Ernest Van Den Haag

http://www.studymode.com/essays/The-Ultimate-Punishment-A-Defense-By-1267733.html

[5] Statistic Brain

http://www.statisticbrain.com/death-penalty-statistics/

[6] Our Bodies Ourselves 

http://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/book/companion.asp?compID=100&id=20

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9 thoughts on “Sometimes Choosing Death is Necessary

  1. How can we justify killing people with the death penalty when we have a imperfect justice system that has been shown in more than one instance to be capable of sending a innocent man to death row? It seems to me that sentencing a man or woman to death for being in the wrong place at the wrong time or for knowing the wrong people, or even simply having a bad reputation is cruel and unusual to say the least. In my opinion we should hold off on giving out final judgments like murder until we have a justice system that isn’t faulty.

    • {ricardoperez2} I completely agree that considering how our system is ran and our limited technology there are too many chances of executing the wrong guy. Even if there is a .99% chance, that is too much, because that means there is still a chance it is the wrong guy. Then the government will be killing an innocent man also. When/If the technology gets that advance I would like to see people go through what they put their victims through. This to some may be a gray area because it can be categorized as revenge verse justice. I disagree because once they go through the same situation then and only then can they really understand why they were wrong.

    • I do agree that miscarriages of injustice are absolutely terrible and there have been an absurd amount in the past. Many of the people that were freed from death row were set free because of the advanced technology we now have that was able to prove their innocence. Nowadays, criminals are not typically sentenced to death unless it proven with DNA testing or other advanced technology, that they committed the crime. If someone was found guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt and DNA testing proved their guilt, would that cause you to think differently in regards to capital punishment?

    • I definitely agree that miscarriages of injustice are awful truths. Sentencing a man to death for a crime that he did not commit is unacceptable. But, because of the advanced technology we now have (mainly the evolution of DNA testing), we don’t hear much about miscarriages of injustice as of recently. The cases we have heard of in recent years were people that were sentenced to death long ago but they were later found to be innocent after the evolution of DNA testing and other technological advancements. Now, a person is not sentenced to death unless they are found guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt, meaning DNA evidence proves their guilt. If a person was proven to be guilty of a capital crime, or if someone even confessed to their crime, would that change your thoughts on capital punishment in those specific cases?

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post taking that we almost had the exact claim and even title regarding all three issues. I believe that in the cases of abortion, euthanasia and the death penalty, death is sometimes necessary. My claim first focused on the quality of life of individuals, but then I moved more towards the claim regarding the betterment of society. At first I focused on the quality of life of the mother, the quality of life the fetus wouldn’t get and the quality of life of the citizens. I then moved towards protecting society as a whole, in which I still think death is sometimes necessary but in a peaceful manner. I believe that if it is your body then it should be your choice and unalienable right to decide what you want to do. Accessibility to abortions worldwide, would provide our society with safe and peaceful procedures that would avoid the thousands of women hospitalized every year for self induced abortions that are not only dangerous, but illegal and can leave psychological and physical scarring. In the case of euthanasia terminally ill patients don’t deserve to suffer and should be able to leave this earth peacefully. Regarding the death penalty, I completely agree with you because I don’t think there is room for rehabilitation and in order to provide a safer society I believe that death is also necessary in this case. Lastly even though it took a lot of critical thinking because my view changed, along with abortion and euthanasia I also think that the death penalty should only be performed in a peaceful manner only because there is the possibility for human error and the possibility of innocent souls who don’t deserve to suffer.

  3. When it comes to the death penalty people are always fifty-fifty on the matter. The only real truth is the one that people personally believe. Most of the times we can choose who we hope would die or who we hope will live,but it usually is all on the matter of popularity. If a trail becomes big and people start to watch they are gunning for the death penalty at full speed like it is a reality game show. The mockery that the death penalty is now is outrageous. If our judicial system were really as just and organized as we like to “claim” it is then I would not be on the fence abou this issue. Death is a necessity, that is a given but as a broken individual how can we pass judgment and then still get the wrong person. Death penalty I feel is effective and a just means of revenge, but for how long will we pretend that it is still in place for the better protection of society?

  4. Although I oppose abortion, I agree that woman should have that option if they choose. I believe if a female (regardless of age) isn’t ready to commit 100% to raising her child and chooses abortion, who am I to say she is a bad person. If by having an abortion she has the opportunity to complete high school, college or life a better life then she has made the right choice. I only ask that both persons use some form of birth control so no one has to suffer even the slightest both physically and emotionally.

  5. I have mixed feelings about these topics. I value the right to make my own decisions based on my personal belief system and I value your right to do the same. Abortion would not be my choice as a pregnant woman but I would fight to death against someone taking that choice away from me, or another. As abortion is about having control over when a life begins, euthanasia is about having control over when a life ends. Again, a personal issue. I begin to struggle with this issue only because by the time it is an option the person is usually not able to make his own decision. It’s quite possible that you’ve made your decision ahead of time but it is also possible that you’ve changed your mind. If a horse breaks his leg, we shoot him to put him out of his misery. It only stands to reason that we would be at least as sympathetic to human suffering. Capital Punishment bothers me only because there is no fail safe way to prove guilt so there is always the chance that we are killing the innocent. It’s difficult for me to give a blanket yes or no to these subjects. I feel like they are choices that need to be made on the individual level.

    • I agree with you. I think it’s tough to be certain as to where you stand on each of these issues, they are all very touchy. And even if a person is sure of where they stand, that might change if they are actually put into one of these situations. A woman who is strongly against abortion may end up pregnant at an inconvenient time in her life and decide that abortion is the right decision for her at the time. It’s difficult to take a stance and go with it because there are so many underlying factors in each individual case.

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