Why I Support Mercy Killing

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By Rahul Gladwin

Back in the old days, dying was relatively simple. Patients with untreatable illnesses opted to stay at home and live the rest of their days under hospice care. These patients wanted to live their end days comfortably surrounded by friends and family and die in their own beds. Today, however, dying has become a complicated issue with the help of machines. Some people are coming up different ways of defining a "good death." Is a good death similar to the one in old days? Or is a good death equivalent to be heaving out the last of breaths using respirators, dialysis machines, and force-feeding using G-tubes?

Today, most patients die in hospitals surrounded by strangers in uniforms. These strangers try their best to keep the patient alive by providing them with the best of medical machines and equipment, beds, medical staff, etc. Now, some people may find this type of death as acceptable, some however, tend to give up quickly and want to die comfortable at home. People who want to die at home may find their wishes unacceptable by family and physicians, who are entangled in a web of moral, legal and medical considerations. The main question into consideration is - should people, who want to die, request their physicians to hasten their deaths? And is it morally acceptable for physicians for physicians to do so?

This raises more questions than answers: Who decides to kill the patient? Is it the doctor? Or is it the patient (who is not always in full mental capacity)? Or is it family members? Wouldn't killing the patient violate the Hippocratic Oath? From a religious point of view, is it moral for one person to take the life of another person - even if the other person wants to die?

My personal point of view is that the doctor and the patient's family (if any) decide on terminating the patient. I have first-handedly witnessed the pains of a family friend during his last stages of life. This person had a motorcycle accident and was in a vegetative state, unable to move except roll his eyes and weakly move his fingers. I noticed when a nurse was cleaning his G-tube, the patient was vigorously rolling his eyes and clenching on the bed sheet - a sign of extreme pain. The patient himself, communicating only using his eyes, wanted to die. Furthermore, the patient's wife and doctors supported in terminating the patient, however, the patient's sister disagreed. In the end, after dragging his life for 12 more months, the patient developed various infections in the lungs and kidneys, together with many ulcers all over the body, and died an extremely painful death. I don't think it was worth to waste all the time and resources on a patient whose life became excruciatingly painful.

So, personally, I fully support mercy killing.

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