Life/Death

The dichotomy between life and death is a very complicated subject, and becomes increasingly more controversial as technology improves and we fall even more into the “culture of biomedicine.” In western cultures, biomedicine is a huge part of our everyday lives, and much of the time we do not even realize it. The public obsession with health and diseases that has skyrocketed the popularity of medical information outlets such as WebMD has also led to patients believing they are more knowledgeable than the doctor themselves and are able to self diagnose their apparent condition.

I think this dichotomy is accepted in our society and believed to be logical because both life and death are very celebrated events, but in the most different ways possible. The coming of a baby calls for gifts, parties, pictures, announcements, redecorating, and the complete way of life of a couple being turned upside down. Death of a loved one, however, is one of the most difficult things a person can go through in their lifetime. We see these two as polar opposites, as clear-cut as night and day. However, I think that this is changing in the field of medicine. Abortion, and the debate between pro life and pro choice is one of the most controversial issues in America today, and at the core is the argument about when life begins. When an egg becomes an embryo? When the fetus can survive outside the womb, or when the baby is born? Life sustaining machines and practices, on the other hand, severely blur the line between life and death at the other end of the journey. Is someone really still alive if they are brain dead and the only reason their heart is still beating is because they are hooked up to ventilators and tubes? I think as medicine continues to progress, it will also continue to challenge this dichotomy, especially with things like cloning and stem cell research.

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