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Mercy Killing

By | October 1999
Page 1 of 4
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 “mercy killing,” 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 “pulling the plug” (passive euthanasia), all the way to Jack Kevorkian’s suicide machine (active euthanasia). To complicate things further, there is also voluntary euthanasia, “Cases in which patient requests to be killed, and dies as a result of action taken by another person,” involuntary euthanasia; “cases 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,” and nonvoluntary euthanasia; “cases in which a conscious, terminally ill patient states that they do not want to die, but is allowed to die or is killed anyway” (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,...

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