Mercy killing or euthanasia and its justification have been discussed much during the last years. Be it a passive (stop giving the medicines) or active (pulling the plug, giving some poison) help to a hopelessly ill person, the result is left unchanged – the person’s life is ended with someone’s interference. Such outcome draws attention to the following questions: does it mean that one life is of more importance or value than some other; how different is euthanasia from suicide if in both cases the decision to die is made by a person him/herself, not by someone else. From the religious point of view taking life away from a human will always be a sin and will always be wrong, but if the aim of each person’s life is to be happy and bring good to other people around, what it the purpose of the bedfast life filled with suffering from pain and realizing the soon death? To my mind, such existence can hardly be called life. It will have negative influence not only on the ill him/herself, but also on the family and close people of such person.
Euthanasia is accepted as illegal in the most countries though there are many protagonists, who support it. Only some countries like Netherlands, Switzerland, and Belgium have accepted such way of treating ill people and releasing them from pain and illnesses as a legal one while in other countries such way of saving the ill is illegal. This split-up can acknowledge that despite all the discussions there is no common point of view on the above mentioned issue among people. Moreover, according to the statistics the most part of the inhabitants even of the countries, where euthanasia is illegal, believe that releasing people from moral and physical pain is more human than keeping them alive, but suffering. Is M. Scott Peck right? Do fatally ill people deserve sufferings? Is euthanasia really connected with the attempts to simplify everything, to deny the existence of the soul, of God and shows that “we are entitled to find an easy way out”? (Peck, 2003) Though it is necessary to find answers to the above mentioned questions, M. Scott Peck was right stating that the euthanasia issue is in a complicated way connected with the right to physical pain relief, the right to hospice care, the existential suffering. Consequently, I agree that only after making clear these matters it will be possible to make a right decision about “legalizing physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill” (Peck, 2003).
The arguments against euthanasia are mostly connected with the religious views of people. It is considered immoral because God is the only being, who has given life to a person and is the only one, who can take it back. Another argument is stating that all lives have equal values; therefore, it is wrong to state that one life can not be taken away, but another one can, and the “killer” will not be punished for it. The third argument is connected with the doctors’ oath not to take part in killing people, doing so would break it. Nevertheless, stating that only God can take away the life is also quite disputable. It is important to consider that each person, who lives in the society, has rights. One of such imprescriptible rights is the right to make choice. If one can decide how to spend this life, one should also have a possibility to decide how to spend the last days of it and whether or not be or feel as a burden for the family. The choice of a person is to be respected anyway, be it a choice to live or to die, especially if nothing can help to sooth the sufferings. But the most important fact is the conscious decision. In the USA there exist a group of doctors entitled “Death Compassion”. The members of the group have a strong belief that the doctor’s duty is to relieve the physical sufferings of the ill person. Those, who are in common sense and have a certificate with at least two different doctor’s opinions that they are suffering from the strong emotional and physical pain and will not live more than six months can make a decision to end life and will get help to do so. But only the ill, which are making the conscious decision, not their relatives can be supported by “Death Compassion”. For instance, the members of the above mentioned group will help a patient, who is in common sense, but is dying from excruciating pain caused by intestine cancer or any other disease, asks doctors to relieve the sufferings and kill him/her. According to the morality it is a human deed to help a person, though from some point of view, it can be equaled to a suicide, M. Scott Peck calls it “an assisted suicide” (Peck, 2003). Despite the above mentioned example, there are situations, when the ill person cannot make such decision, but hardly gets any pleasure from life and simply exists suffers, and, moreover, cannot stop it. The story about Roswell Gilbert can illustrate such case. An old man has killed his wife, who was suffering from osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. She was unable to make a decision by herself. Therefore, her husband made a decision to interrupt her life as “a suffering animal” and shoot her. His deed was regarded as illegal, and Gilbert was sentenced to 25 years of prison. But can this crime be equaled to a murder? Taking the life away from the poor woman, who cannot even make any decision and is bedfast, sounds more human than letting her live. There are many similar cases, which astonish by being “equally destructive of society and wholly human” (Rosenblatt, 2003). This proves that sometimes the morality swings.
The science is getting on new levels day by day, the scientists are inventing new medicines and creating bio tissues, transplants; and that would be wonderful if there appear more possibilities to prolong people’s lives by diminishing their sufferings or finding the cures from all diseases. Unfortunately, it sounds like a fairy tale for many ill. Therefore, it is quite difficult to make one right decision about mercy killing, which would be appropriate for each situation, since in reality each separate case is unique. Nevertheless, I believe that until the miracle happens it is just and fair to accept mercy killing as legal. Of course, several factors should be taken into account: the first point, which should be considered while making a decision, is the consent and the choice of the ill person him/herself, the second is how strong the sufferings are, and the third is the absence of hope to be cured and the accuracy of the diagnosis. Finally, it is doubtful that the issue, which swings the morality, will become undisputable and resolved unambiguously.