Mercy death or alternatively, mercy killing, popularly termed, ‘Euthanasia’ is the act or practice of killing or ending one’s life in order to kill someone painlessly and in a more dignified way. Such means are generally applicable in case of an individual suffering from incurable disease or a terminal illness via means of lethal dose or suspension of life support treatment. Such a practice might as well occur as voluntary action by the consent of the patient or his relatives, however in the language of a protest it may be stated as assisting someone to commit suicide. Despite the exercise of one’s freewill or authorized consent killing is an offense by law and hence even mercy death should not escape that typecast. It is more convenient to condemn such a practice when it is viewed from the humanitarian angle and fingers are pointed to the ultimate consequence, which is death. Classifications:
Mercy killing can be of three types – passive, non aggressive and aggressive. While passive euthanasia refers to withholding common treatments like antibiotics, drugs or surgery or giving a medication to relieve pain despite knowing that it might cause death, e.g. high doses of sleeping pills, non aggressive euthanasia deals with withdrawal of life support systems and hence is more controversial. Aggressive euthanasia is the most controversial of all since it refers to use of lethal substances or force to end lives. According to Rachel’s argument however, if the motive and consequences are the same then there is no difference between active (aggressive) or passive euthanasia. Euthanasia is also differentiated according to voluntary or non voluntary withdrawal. In case of voluntary withdrawal the person’s direct consent is taken. This is the least controversial of all in this classification. Non voluntary euthanasia refers to the application of the practice when there is an indirect consent from someone amongst the patient’s family or friends. Involuntary euthanasia is equivalent to murder as it is the practice of euthanasia against one’s will or without consent. Thesis:
In the context of the protests raised against mercy death or euthanasia, this paper argues that voluntary euthanasia or physician assisted suicide should not be allowed in the state. The versatility in public opinion about the euthanasia arises mainly from the fact that religious diversity exists in US. From a survey it was found that people who were not among any religious groups gave their support in favor of euthanasia. The Christian groups were most inclined to oppose euthanasia and the groups covered Southern Baptists, Evangelicals and Catholics. The moderate Protestants demonstrated mixed opinions regarding the end-of-life decisions. Conservative protestants were more opposed to euthanasia than the moderate ones. The liberal protestants were the most supportive in this regard. Though the Catholics were against the practice, yet they were equally supportive of the practice as the moderate protestants. It was those people who visited the church regularly that took a more opposed view that the crowd which was less attached to religious institutions. (Magnusson, 1997) Buddhism strongly opposes anything said against life, even highlighting miseries of life is forbidden and so is the withdrawal of best possible treatment in order to ensure a more painless and easy death. (Barnes, 1996) Even Hinduism views euthanasia as murder act and release of the Atman (soul) before time. Again, when a body is in a vegetative state it is perceived that the spirit has already left and there is no quality life remaining. However the avatars has chosen when to leave their spirits and attain Moksha. (“Religion & Ethics – Hinduism” 2008) Ethnicity has also been a strong decisive factor in euthanasia approach. Recent studies have demonstrated that European-Americans have shown more acceptance towards mercy death than African-Americans. A probable reason could be the...
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