Mercy Killings

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During the past decade, the debate about legalizing euthanasia has grown in many developed countries, including France. Medical journals have reflected this: surveys have assessed doctors' attitudes toward euthanasia and bioethics articles have discussed the pros and cons. Supporters of legalisation argue that euthanasia is a continuation of palliative care and that doctors must respect patients' autonomy, including a wish to die.1 The latter argument suggests that cultural differences shape opinions about euthanasia, because the emphasis on autonomy is greater in English speaking countries than in other developed countries.2 3 A profession is a job, grounded on a professed moral vision, mutually accepted by its members, be they academics, lawyers, or whoever. Americans still trust their doctors, generally speaking. But whether we are patients or physicians, we just cannot make up our minds: Do we want technicians who have a monopoly on key skills? Or do we want what we used to have -- a vocation driven by moral vision? Now is a good time to be reminded of the origins of the medical profession, because it started with these very questions. And unexpectedly, Hippocrates, the famous physician of antiquity, is in the news once again. Although almost nothing is known of his life and work, he gave birth to centuries of medical tradition in Western civilization. Among recent developments, a group of distinguished doctors and ethicists, including some Christian leaders, have signed a modernized version of the famous oath. That may not be too much of a surprise, since Hippocrates was the father of all prolifers. On the twin life issues of abortion and euthanasia, he made the definitive statements: No, No.


The present paper intends to portray the ethical dilemma of mercy killings for the medical professionals. The paper will present the positive and negative aspects of applying a mercy killing.
Although this is not my professional area, I think this moral dilemma is of great importance since any one of us can deal with this situation, even though we are not the professionals treating patients; still we can make a decision.

Mercy killings are used in those situations in which persons are terminally ill and suffering from great pain, comatose or with a cerebral death which causes an inactive life and a vegetative state. They are called mercy killings because these people are the ones that suffer from very painful treatments, they generally have emotional problems due to their disease and have an unbearable form of life. It is mercy that acts when the pain or suffering of another person can be relieved with the consent of that person. The pain and suffering is very devastating to people and these could be aggravated due to intensive medical treatments that may result in terminal agony to the patient. These people usually lack of quality of life and dignity at the moment of their death because they are not competent. What they tend to protect a lot is their autonomy and self-determination and the right to decide whether or not he or she wants to terminate his or her life. Most of the people that favor mercy killings state that they do not want to become slaves of technology and to be attached to electronic life-sustaining devices. In order to legalize this practice, a document called “Living Will” should be necessary. In this document, the person that wishes to die due to mercy killing will specify that life under circumstances “much worse than death” is when life-sustaining treatment are to be stopped or withdrawn.

Those in favor of mercy killings argue that the terminally ill patient must be allowed to face death with dignity and that any person must have a humane and dignified death. Living in a vegetative state is therefore no example of a dignified life. “Many patients with terminal diseases have explained that their major fear is to loose dignity. Dependence, lack of individuality,...
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