By Conner Mi
You can’t move a finger. Every part of your body suffers from excruciating pain, no medicine helps, nothing works. You’ve been lying in this hospital bed for almost 10 months, slowly getting worse and worse. Your family is around you, but your failing brain can barely make out their faces as the rapidly growing tumor corrupts your ability to speak, move, and soon, to think. Every day is an unmerciful existence enveloped in pain, yet you aren’t allowed to die. Although it may seem unimaginable for someone be in this state, this was the real story of Greg Sims, and many still suffer just like he did.
Now imagine if you are a son or a daughter visiting your loved mother who is suffering too. It pains you every time you see her as she slowly slips into darkness and you can do nothing about it. All you can do is to watch. You are also overwhelmed by financial stress as well because your Mom may not have good medical insurance to pay the bills. This prolonged, hopeless pain for the patients, as well as for the family members, is unnecessary. Terminating this pain would be mercy.
In 2009, Medicare paid $55 billion USD solely on the last two months of terminally ill patients’ lives, of which “20 to 30 percent of those expenses may have had no meaningful impact”. Saving social and financial resources to make a greater impact on those who truly need it would be mercy.
With advancing medical technologies, lives can be prolonged even if they can’t be saved. It seems merciful, but many still experience unbearable pain and are confined to their hospital beds for too long. Keeping a soul trapped in a dying body just to suffer, perhaps, is not merciful.
A terminally ill patient should be allowed to exercise the “right to die”. In addition to being a emotional and physical relief, it is also a matter of patient’s dignity to be honored with a peaceful, painless death to avoid the excruciating pain caused by incurable diseases.
Also called mercy killing, euthanasia, defined as “the act of permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals for reasons of mercy” has been highly controversial due to its inconsistency with traditional values, mostly, with some religion groups. The exercise of euthanasia not only needs social value support, but also needs legal support.
The most persistent argument among the opposition is that taking a life, whether it be with good or evil intentions, is heresy in some religious groups. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has spoken out, “as a responsible steward of life one must never directly intend to cause one’s own death, or the death of an innocent victim, by action or omission”. Note that this quote is from a country that is 76.6% religious, of which is 90% Christian. No wonder there is such a solid resistance in the US for nation-wide euthanasia legalization.
Instead, take a look at the Netherlands, the first nation to legalize euthanasia in early 2001. The population is just 49.9% religious and 39.2% Christian. Without a strong religious community, legalisation of euthanasia becomes a bit easier. Conclusively, without the old, antediluvian views of some religions, the medical community could continue making a more merciful world for those in pain.
If you were in the same situation as Greg Sims, as a terminally ill patient dying slowly in pain, would you rather suffer in silence until death creeps onto you or take a quick and painless option, and relieve your loved ones? Sadly, many major countries are still reluctant to help those in Greg’s condition. Will you, a person who honors lives, who treasures love and peace, grant Greg Sims his “right to die”?
“Euthanasia.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/euthanasia.
Go Gentle Australia | 33sc September 18, 2017. “Greg Sims.” Go Gentle Australia, www.gogentleaustralia.org.au/dads_story.
“Top 10 Pro & Con Arguments – Euthanasia – ProCon.org.” Should Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal?, euthanasia.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000126.
“The World Factbook: NETHERLANDS.” Central Intelligence Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, 22 Feb. 2018, www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/nl.html.
“The World Factbook: United States.” Central Intelligence Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, 22 Feb. 2018, www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html.
South Australia Voluntary Euthanasia Society. “Euthanasia Relieves Suffering.” Euthanasia, edited by Carrie Snyder, Greenhaven Press, 2006. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010134234/OVIC?u=60iskl&xid=43951bee. Accessed 26 Feb. 2018. Originally published as “A Synopsis of Disease and Symptoms Which Are at Best Difficult, at Worst Impossible to Control with Modern Palliative Care and Medical Care,” 2004.