Euthanasia as Mercy or Murder
"In keeping with the root definition of 'euthanasia'- literally [meaning] 'good
death'- [supporters] of euthanasia insist they are talking about helping terminally ill
patients in insufferable pain die a dignified death- at the patient's request. But this
bears no resemblance to the true picture of the actual practice of euthanasia in the
United States" (Lyons np). Passive euthanasia is death by nonintervention, meaning
a health care worker can discontinue providing life-sustaining treatment to the
patient, thus allowing him to die more quickly. "In all actuality, [passive]
euthanasia often involves withholding food and water from a patient whose death is
caused by starvation or dehydration rather than the patient's underlying disease"
(Lyons np). In active euthanasia, a physician or family member takes the life of a
patient by means of lethal injection, before he or she dies of a terminal illness or
injury. Currently, passive euthanasia is prohibited in most states, but not all.
Whereas, active euthanasia is illegal in every state. Although many people believe
that euthanasia is a way for people to die with dignity, it is the deliberate taking of a
human life and should be banned because it is a clear form of murder.
Of course, supporters of euthanasia do not agree that this is an act of murder,
but rather they see it as an act of mercy. They believe that when an individual's
quality of life is severely diminished by debilitating diseases or terminal illnesses, he
or she should have the right to decide between life or death by euthanasia. They
strongly feel that their love ones should be allowed to die peacefully, surrounded by
family and friends. They believe that to assist a loved one with 'mercy killing' is an
unselfish act of compassion, and to grant their last wish allows them to die with
dignity. The most active group of supporters are members of the Hemlock Society.
These supporters are Christians and churchgoers and believe that the God they
worship is a God of understanding and love. They also believe that "as long as [the
act of 'mercy killing'] was justifiable and met the conditions of not hurting other
people then they feel that God would accept them into heaven" (Humphry 19).
Sure, in the eyes of euthanasia supporters, even those who claim to be
Christians, 'mercy killing' is a noble and compassionate act, but what is the 5th
commandment? You shall not kill. Those four words alone seem to eliminate all
possible suggestions in favor of euthanasia. Derek Humphry, founder of the
Hemlock Society, "... helped his wife, who was suffering from incurable bone
cancer, to take her life by supplying her with a cup of coffee laced with a lethal
mixture of secobarbital and codeine" (Worsnop 156). "Our society, basing its
views primarily on the fundamental values of Judaism and Christianity, has always
forbidden the taking of innocent life and has considered...