Mercy Killing

This essay has a total of 1508 words and 6 pages.

Mercy Killing


Mercy Killing or Just Plain Killing: The Euthanasia Debate

For as long as people have been around, we have been dying. While this very well may seem
to be pointing out the obvious, so many of us forget that we, as humans, are mortal
beings. Our life span is definitely finite, and it should be. Just think what would happen
if nobody ever died. Even though we are mortal, we try to hang onto our lives as long as
we can. Fear of death and wanting to live forever are, after all, part of human nature.
Sometimes, however, medicine takes advantage of this aspect of humanity and, to a great
extent, capitalizes on it. While it is certainly true that one goal of medicine has always
been to prolong life, another goal has been the alleviation of pain and suffering. One
point at which these two views collide, often violently, is over the hotly debated issue
of euthanasia.


Euthanasia, or a€œmercy killing,a€� as it has been called, is certainly not an
issue with just two sides, there are many side to it. Euthanasia, after all, ranges from
simply allowing an individual to die naturally without life support or a€œpulling the
pluga€� (passive euthanasia), all the way to Jack Kevorkiana€™s suicide machine
(active euthanasia). To complicate things further, there is also voluntary euthanasia,
a€œCases in which patient requests to be killed, and dies as a result of action taken
by another person,a€� involuntary euthanasia; a€œcases in which no action is
requested because the patient is unconscious, senile, or otherwise incapable of making a
request, but the person is allowed to die or is killed,a€� and nonvoluntary
euthanasia; a€œcases in which a conscious, terminally ill patient states that they do
not want to die, but is allowed to die or is killed anywaya€�
(http://valdosta.peachnet.edu). While an individual may advocate one form of euthanasia,
it is not uncommon for the same person to be completely against another form. There are
cases in which euthanasia is wrong, especially cases involving conscious people who are
not really in a lot of pain, seeking death. In these cases, some kind of counseling would
make a lot more sense than just accepting that these people think they need to die and
therefore should. On the other hand, there are also certainly cases where euthanasia is a
less painful alternative to what may otherwise lie ahead. In most of these cases, the
disease will end up killing the individual anyway, so why prolong pain by putting people
with incurable illnesses on life support? After all, as stated before, one of the main
goals of medicine is to alleviate pain and suffering. If there is no cure to an illness,
and the treatments, as well as the disease are painful, why put the individual, and the
family, through financial and emotional anguish?


One problem many of the opponents of euthanasia have with such a€œmercy killinga€�
is that it is killing, and, to many, this constitutes murder. To murder, however, by
definition, is a€œto kill brutally or inhumanly,a€�(American Heritage Dictionary.)
It is possible that very few of the mercy killings that have occurred over the years have
been murder; however, suicide would probably be a better word. After all, it is, in most
cases, the individual with the disease is the one who make the final decision.
Furthermore, is it brutal or inhuman to end somebodya€™s life when it is clear that
the life they are living is a life of pain and suffering? By the dictionary definition of
murder, it seems that forcing someone to die in pain rather than trying to do something
about this would be closer to murder.


Another issue involves how natural these things are; on the one hand, euthanasia,
especially active euthanasia, seems unnatural, on the other, so do some other medical
procedures. It is not exactly natural, after all to keep somebody alive with all kinds of
tubes running in and out of his or her body. Here is where the distinction between
illnesses and afflictions that can be healed or cured and ones that cannot becomes
important. There is a large difference between somebody who wants to die because he gets
in a car accident and breaks a few bones, and someone who wants to die because she has
terminal cancer and will die a painful death anyway.


Of course, there are some arguments for the elimination of euthanasia alltogether.
Euthanasia is killing; there is no question about it. Even the New England Journal of
Medicine admits this; Dr. Ronald Cranford, one of the authors of a report saying that it
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