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,Fall02/thomson.htm

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

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

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

[5] Statistic Brain

[6] Our Bodies Ourselves


Euthanasia: Do we have a choice?

The main point J. Gay-Williams states in his writing is that “Every human has a natural inclination to continue living.” To me, this statement in itself, decreases the validity of his argument. Although I do understand what he is trying to say, there are many medications and procedures that assist people in living a longer life. So does this mean that people should avoid taking medications and having procedures done because they are not “natural”? If people refused to take medications and have procedures done if need be, we would not have a very long average life span.

I do believe that the subject of euthanasia is extremely controversial and I can see the stance that both sides take, but I find myself believing that people have the right to end their lives peacefully if they so choose. Attempting to put myself in the position of an old, sick, and tired human being, I don’t believe I would choose to die, but I do believe that I should have the right to end my life if I want to. Some people spend the ends of their lives suffering and hoping that their death comes sooner rather than later. I do not believe that is a healthy way to live.

For J. Gay-Williams’ argument to stand strong, I believe he would also have to disagree with the use of medications to prevent or kill any sort of sickness or disease. Otherwise, medicated human beings are not living “naturally” and are therefore, clashing with his views. Although I do not necessarily believe that offing yourself is the best decision to make whenever you are sick, I do believe that we as humans should have the option to die peacefully rather than suffering. No one should force us to continue suffering if we want to be laid to rest.

The Death Penalty

Capital punishment has been a controversial issue for many years. Those in favor of the death penalty often argue that someone who committed a violent crime should not have the right to continue their life. Those opposed to the death penalty argue  that “two wrongs don’t make a right”,  they should have to suffer in lieu of being executed in a humane way, or that capital punishment is just too expensive and the funds should be spent elsewhere. There are many different ways to view the death penalty issue, which is why it is so controversial. I believe capital punishment has both positive and negative effects. On one hand, we are ensuring that the world is free of one evil person by executing them, but on the other hand, is executing someone who previously committed a crime really getting to the root of the problem? None of their victims will be brought back once they are put to death so what is the benefit in punishing the criminals with death?

There have been many cases in the past when someone was sentenced to death for a crime that they did not commit. Before we had DNA testing many people were charged with crimes and were later found out to be innocent. Many people were taken off death row after the evolution of DNA testing because the testing proved their innocence. How terrible would it be to put someone to death and later find out they were innocent? I’m sure we would all agree that that would be awful. Since there are many crimes we cannot prove beyond the shadow of a doubt, should capital punishment still be an option?

On the other hand, some argue that criminals who are sentenced to life in prison are treated too nicely considering the awful crimes they committed. Criminals are given three meals a day, a bed, access to showers, and the option to go outside or watch some T.V in their free-time. Although they are not living the “ideal” life being locked up in a prison, I think we all can agree they aren’t living absolutely horrible considering the nature of their crimes. Is it fair that they still live fairly decent lives behind bars when their victim’s lives were cut short?  

Sex Does Sell

Advertising has seemed to change drastically over the years. Nowadays, commercials and ads in magazines seem to often portray some type of “sexual scene” or sultry photo in order to convey their message. I have seen examples of these sexual scenes and/or photos in advertisements made by fast food companies like Carl’s Jr. and Burger King, and even by clothing companies such as Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci.  These are companies that are selling products that have no relation to sex but for some reason, their ads often portray a sexual scene. Why do you think this is? I think the answer is simple, because sex does sell.

Companies use this tactic knowing that the photo or video will immediately attract the attention of many consumers and make them wonder, “What is this ad for?” The assumption is, that the further the consumer looks, the more likely it is that they will be persuaded to buy the product, or at the very least, the ad will leave a lasting impression in the consumer’s mind.

The fact is, people are often immediately attracted to things that portray something relating to sex. This is why companies use people of the opposite sex to either attract men or women, depending upon the product they are trying to sell. Although the content in these ads seem to be completely unrelated to the products themselves, they are often still very successful in convincing consumers to buy their products. The ads may lead consumers to believe that if they buy the product they will either look like or be able to date someone that looks like the person that appears in the ad.

A good amount of ads nowadays come off offensively or just completely irrelevant and in no way correspond to the product being sold. This is the company’s way of selling. And they are fully aware that the idea of sex does sell. So in this case, they put their morality aside and focus solely on what will sell their product, even if this involves putting half naked women in a burger commercial. 

How Does Pornography Portray Women?

In the pornography reading, Wendy McElroy describes three Feminist positions on pornography. The first being that pornography is “an expression of male culture through which women are commodified and exploited.” The second, “combines a respect for free speech with the principle ‘a woman’s body, a woman’s right’ and thus produces a defense of pornography along the lines of ‘I don’t approve of it, but everyone has the right to consume or produce words and images’.” And the final view being that pornography actually benefits women.

 I personally fall into the second category. Although pornography is not something I would partake in or that I necessarily approve of, I do believe that each person has the right to do what they want with their body. And if a woman chooses to partake in pornographic films, if it is not affecting me in any way, then so be it.

 Though I do believe everyone has the right to make choices as to what they do with their body, I do have a lot of problems with the way the porn industry works. Many pornographic films portray women as objects used to fulfill a male’s sexual needs. The films are often very aggressive and in my opinion, the women look as if they have to “fake” having sexual pleasure. Pornographic films objectify women and could potentially set a standard for how men treat women even outside of the bedroom.

 In class this evening, the following question was asked, “If many people feel that pornographic films objectify women, why was the “50 Shades of Grey” trilogy so popular particularly amongst women? For those of you who don’t know, the “50 Shades of Grey” trilogy is about a man who becomes romantically involved with a young woman and in the bedroom, he is constantly the dominant one and he forces her to be his submissive and endure the physical pain he sometimes causes her. What do you guys think about this? Do you think this is contradictory in any way? Or do you think the two situations are unable to be compared due to the couple’s romantic involvement in the book and the lack of romantic involvement in pornographic films?

Affirmative Action

I believe affirmative action was very necessary back in the 1950’s and 60’s when people were just beginning to accept women into the workforce and African Americans were beginning their fight for equality. Throughout those years people were too accustomed to seeing only white males holding well paying jobs so it was important that there was increased representation of women and minority group members. I think affirmative action was a positive change back then, but since, I feel like it can sometimes have a negative side as well.

 People sometimes seemed to be consumed by the idea that all companies have to include people of a bunch of different races and genders. During our discussion in class this evening, the following question was asked, “Should companies have a diverse quota they must meet in order to ensure that their company includes people of different races and genders?” I feel that having to meet a quota is taking things to the extreme. Companies shouldn’t be forced to have a certain percentage of white people, or a certain percentage of black people. Having this quota could negatively effect the employees want to work. They may just see themselves as “filling a spot” in order for the company to meet their quota, and they may develop a “the company needs me attitude.” For example, if an Asian woman gets hired for a job at a clothing store and she is the only Asian woman employed there, she may start to slack on her work because she knows the company needs an Asian woman to meet their quota.

 I also think affirmative action has a negative effect because it takes into account the gender and ethnicity of a person rather than evaluating a person solely based on their work ethic and their ability to perform a certain job. When companies are hiring, I believe their decision should be based upon who is best suited for the job and who meets all of the qualifications. I do not think that gender or race should be taken into consideration.



Female Genital Cutting

After our discussion in class about female genital cutting, I feel as though I have more clarity but it does not change my position. Female genital cutting is a tradition practiced in many different cultures that involves cutting the clitoris of young girls. The young girls are not put under anesthesia or given any pain-killers so they not only have to experience the pain of the procedure itself, but they also have to endure pain for many weeks following the procedure as well. This procedure is done to hopefully prevent the girl from having sex with many men later in her life because she will not be able to experience an orgasm.

Along with this procedure being extremely irrational, there is also physical and emotional damage done during and after the process. During the process it is possible that the girl may go into shock due to the large amount of blood and high levels of pain.  She may also get an infection if the tools and the person performing the procedure were not sterilized and clean. If the procedure is not done correctly, the girl may also suffer damaged organs such as the anus or urethra. In addition to those short-term consequences, there is also the possibility of long-term consequences as well. The girl may suffer from repeated urinary infections, extremely painful menstruation, and accumulation of blood clots, pain during intercourse, and difficult childbirth.

I personally do not see any good in this procedure, I do not think it is done for a good reason and the positives and negatives are incomparable. Because this procedure causes so much pain and suffering to young girls I absolutely think it should be banned world-wide. However, this is a tradition that many people have become accustomed to throughout the years. In other cultures, this procedure isn’t thought to be extremely harmful or out of the ordinary. And because so many people are in favor of it, it is difficult for us to try to impose our beliefs on them. I believe that until they begin to complain about this procedure being done to them, then all we can do is educate them and hope that they see all the negative effects of it.