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It is upsetting and depressing living life in the shadow of death One reason is that we are all aware of the fact that we are going to die and most of us are afraid of suffering through a terminal illness The normal process of dying is frequently hidden from us with family members dying in hospitals and nursing homes The process of dying is unknown and frightening We will all die We may be able to postpone death but we cannot avoid it We all die of something somewhere somehow Although we cannot avoid death we can control the death caused by a terminal illness We can determine how when and with whom we die Right now at this time there are over 10000 patients in the United States that are in a permanent vegetative state With the technology we have today we are able to help people survive for long periods About two million Americans die every year About eight five percent of them are in institutions Eighty percent of them are involve in a decision by someone to try to prolong life or let it go It is estimated that around four of every five Americans will die of lingering chronic illness which cannot be cured but can be artificially prolonged Taylor 2006 p36 Competent rational human beings must have the right to determine their own health care according to their personal wishes values and beliefs as long as such a determination does not jeopardize the safety or well-being of any other person Todays advanced medical technologies compound this suffering in ways that earlier generations were spared More hopelessly ill people are being kept alive in some monstrous machine operated imitation of life To the unspeakable terror of death has been added the immeasurable horror of being kept alive while all but dead Advanced medical technologies sorely test our capacity to make wise choices-whether to refuse or accept treatment and how to
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