Should Mercy Killing Be Allowed?

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The book “topics for today” by Smith, L.C & Mare, N.N (2004) is a reliable material for English learners in general and third year students in ULIS-VNU in particular. All its four units with some interesting topics including the society, nature versus nurture, medical advance as well as the environment fascinated me a lot. However, I make the third unit my best choice for my reading reflection because it discusses technology and ethical issues raises, which have been recently concerned most among people.

The unit consists of three chapters entitled “Assisted suicide: Multiple perspectives”, “Sales of Kidneys prompt new laws and debate”, “The gift of life: When one body can save another”. However, there are only two main issues being addressed in the unit namely assisted suicide and donating human organs.

First and foremost, the matters of whether to allow doctors to offer their patients a death certificate or not are fully discussed in the initial chapter. From Dr Francis Moore’s point of view, assisting people to leave their lives is a really difficult task to most doctors. He used to have a dilemma with this practice on two patients. The first is a woman who had been seriously damaged by an automobile accident. With the experience from the former work as a nurse, she knew that there was no hope left for her situation, and so offered Dr Moore to give her a quiet death. However, in this case, the doctor did not satisfy her expectation. In contrast, he decided to keep her alive and it was a right decision. The second patient was an 85 year old lady who had a deep burn while she was smoking. Unlike the first situation, the doctor decided to offer her an assisted killing this time so that she could avoid terrible physical pains. From real-life experience of Doctor Moore, we learn that giving one person a mercy killing requires strong judgment and long experiences from doctors. Any minor mistake in this practice can lead to adverse consequences which possibly take away people’s lives.

Due to its complexity, mercy killing has raised a lot of disputation so far. Two main schools of thought have been addressed in the second reading text named “ Should doctors be allowed to help terminally III Patients commit suicide?” by Humphry, D and Callahan, D. Those supporting the practice claim that doctors are not super-healers who can treat every disease. Hence, death should be considered as a part of medicine, which helps patients out of unbearable pains and leaves them a quiet sleep. The second justification is that patients need a help from doctors because it is rather difficult for them to take the death by their own. Opponents of this idea, who say no to mercy killing, believe that allowing doctors to help ill person commit suicide would be against the tradition of medicine and spoil the image of physicians. Moreover, legalizing it can raise great concern of increasing number in people taking assisted suicide to weigh off their relative’s burden.

Considering the two schools of thought, I am partly in favor of the former one. Writing death certificate should be allowed to doctors. However, as being suggested by Dr Moore in the first reading text, this action should be practiced only on patients who are irreversible, terminal and hopeless ill and judged carefully by many doctors.

Beside controversies of mercy killing, the advanced technology brings new laws and debate surrounding trading human organs. The two next chapters in the unit discuss this issue. At one end of the spectrum are those who support the sale of organs for transplanting. They hold one opinion that human organ market offers terminally ill patients great chances for transplants without which they would endure terrible mental suffering or painful deaths. Another justification is selling organs especially kidneys benefits both sides of sellers and buyers. Moreover, it is estimated that paying for transplantable cadaver kidneys is 5 to 6 times cheaper than...
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