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Personal political profile regarding positions on euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide, and religion and government

By Jim Killebrew

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[February 25, 2014]  This is the sixth article in the series of personal political profiles where we are examining the positions taken by the liberal perspective and the conservative perspective regarding various issues. To better understand the positions each of the candidates hold as they give their speeches and campaign for their specific office, we need to have an idea of where their party affiliation stands on the issues. By reviewing some of the issues from the perspective of the liberal and conservative, we can better understand how that candidate will develop and implement policies and regulations after elected to the office. Today's article will focus on two issues: euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide, and religion and government.

Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide

Liberal perspective

The liberal perspective is that euthanasia (sometimes called mercy killing) should be legalized. The liberal perspective believes in the individual right to die with dignity and at the individual's own hand by personal choice. The most common example is that of a person having a terminal illness or condition. When pain and suffering is constantly present in a person's life and it becomes a condition that is beyond medical interventions to relieve the suffering, the liberal groups believe the person should have the right to choose to end their pain and suffering by ending their life. The liberal group believes the government should establish laws and regulations that would provide the means for the terminally ill person to decide when to end personal life. The liberal perspective believes it is morally wrong to force a person to live in pain and suffering if the individual has the desire to end natural life.

In the opinion of the liberal perspective, any questions regarding estates, life insurance or after-death responsibilities should be handled by the regulations of government to decide such matters as the person wishes. The counter-argument that legalizing euthanasia would increase the probability of doctor-assisted suicides of people without terminal illness is simply that euthanasia would not prompt that action. There is no evidence that it wouldn't increase doctor-assisted suicides, but the proponents of euthanasia believe physicians would maintain a moral standing of doing no harm to those who wish not to practice euthanasia.

The liberal perspective believes that euthanasia would help in the reduction of healthcare costs for those who require long-lasting treatments with terminal conditions. By saving the funding to continue treatment for those whose condition is terminal, the liberal perspective believes it makes more funds available for others who could benefit from treatment and other types of medical care.

Conservative perspective

The conservative perspective believes euthanasia should not be legalized. Concurrently, the conservative perspective believes the physician-assisted suicide should not be legalized either. The conservative assigns a certain amount of morality to the issue of euthanasia or assisted suicide. It is immoral to plan for and implement an end to a life of a human being who is terminally ill or wants to end their own life.

Unlike the liberal view, the conservatives believe legalizing euthanasia will likely lead to more doctor-assisted suicide. There could be a move from insurance companies to urge physicians to counsel individuals to end their lives rather than waste the funding on treatments that are expensive and will not significantly extend lives. Finally, conservative perspectives remind us that many religions are against suicide and euthanasia because it is taught against in their respective churches. As it is with abortion, the wholesale ending of life, so says the conservative perspective, is to devalue human life. It is exactly the opposite of the rights afforded everyone who is a citizen that people have the right to pursue life and happiness.

Religion and government

Liberal perspective

The liberal perspective supports the separation of the church and the state. The liberal group believes that the United States Bill of Rights implies the church and state should be separated. The liberal group believes the "evangelism" aspect of most religions prohibits the presence of that religion in the political government debates. Not only should those two be separated, they should run parallel with each other, never meeting on the public state; one should stay in the churches or places of worship, while the other stays in the political sphere.

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The liberal point of view states that government should never support any kind of religious expression. Even the age-old practices from the very beginning of the constitutional form of our government should preclude prayer in the seat of government. If it exists at all, it should be neutral of any reference to any deity. It should be excluded in all public places where tax support is used; all references to any examples from the Bible should be removed and prohibited. The liberal perspective believes all references to the Ten Commandments should be removed from courthouses and statehouses as well as all federal buildings.

Conservative perspective

The conservative perspective observes that the phrase "separation of church and state" is not written anywhere in the United States Constitution. In fact, the conservative group believes the rights American citizens have are not granted by the government, but granted by God Himself. The First Amendment to the Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…." The argument from the conservative group is that government is prohibited from establishing a national religion and then compelling citizens to practice that national religion. The Constitution does not prohibit citizens from practicing their right of free speech by restricting that speech from mentioning God in schools or public buildings. Conservatives point to bygone generations who have regularly read the Bible and said prayers in both public places.

The bottom line for the conservatives is that the government does not have the legal authority under the Constitution to interfere with religion and religious freedoms practiced by citizens of the United States.

So, as with the issues discussed in other articles, these issues of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide and religion and government add to the voter's personal political profile and will help guide the voter through the election. Each candidate will be examined regarding their standing, not just on their political party affiliation, but how they stand on the issues of abortion, energy, gun control, economy, healthcare, immigration and personal property, euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide, and religion and government. The candidate who matches the voter's personal perspective will win the vote from that person. Again, this is very important not just in the general election, but in the primaries as well. During the primary cycle there is usually an array of candidates from the same party, but with differing viewpoints regarding how they will approach solutions for any given issue.

The voter may want to take the stated positions discussed in these articles and create a list of positions each candidate claims. If the candidate, through interviews, reports, articles, speeches and other information from or about their positions, shares their ideas of government and any of the issues discussed, the voter should list those out to determine if the candidate is leaning toward the liberal or conservative viewpoints. The party affiliation should be considered as well. If the candidate is more liberal, it is likely the candidate is a Democrat; if the candidate is more conservative, it is likely the candidate is a Republican.

The voter may feel more comfortable in voting for a candidate who more clearly matches personal views. If the voter identifies more with the liberal point of view, the Democrat candidate will likely receive that person's vote. Conversely, if the voter identifies more with the conservative point of view, the Republican candidate will likely receive that person's vote.

This is the final article in the series of personal political profiles regarding various positions. Happy voting!


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