By James Kim
Mercy killing. It’s as controversial as paradoxical.
Euthanasia has been a controversial conundrum all around the globe. As the practise has gained popularity, the majority of voters have associated assisted suicide with compassion. Yet, does it give terminally ill patients a choice? Does it benefit the medical industry? Does it follow the right to life? In reality, mercy-killing is just another form of murder, going against the natural right to life as well as impeding advances in healthcare.
Supporters of euthanasia like to believe that the choice to euthanize is voluntary. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The fact that euthanasia is such an expedient solution opens a window for irresponsible physicians to abuse mercy killing for their own benefits. To the patient’s family, assisted suicide may be a financial solution. To the patient’s doctor, it is a free bed and less wasted resources. Can you imagine the culture that would follow this inhumane practice?
We would like to believe that all doctors are as compassionate as the families towards the lives of terminally ill patients. However, evidence indicates the contrary: not all… In Belgium, studies have found that 32% of the assisted deaths were carried out without request from patients in 2012. It seems that some doctors are already starting to utilize euthanasia to create housing space and preserve resources. If the practise is popularized, how many more people would these doctors would callously dispose of?
Another issue that arises from the popularization of euthanasia is its consequences on the medical industry. Throughout history, we have persevered to discover treatments and medicines for seemingly incurable diseases. As a result, we achieved breakthroughs to retain the value of human life: we came up with vaccinations during the smallpox epidemic, penicillin during the WW1 disease outbreak, and the polio vaccine for the polio outbreaks of the 19th Century.
However, if euthanasia is legalised, will our doctors continue to search for solutions? After all, they could simply prompt every terminally ill patient to the euthanization sign up sheet; It is the most cost-efficient and convenient way to save beds at the hospital. In 1991, the Hemlock society handed out greeting cards. Patients who struggle between life and death every minute were met with an ‘optimistic’ death note: “I learned you’ll be leaving us soon.” This is the hospital’s way of saying, “Please be prepared to die.” Supporting mercy-killing is equivalent to supporting a culture in which killing is to be an approved option to doctors under the graceful banner of “imparting mercy”.
Mercy-killing goes against the very oath that doctors swear by all around the globe. As the Hippocratic Oath–an oath that is still rehearsed in many medical school ceremonies today–states, “I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel…” Woe to those who blatantly break their sacred oath!
Advocates of euthanasia continuously stress that every human should have the choice to die. However, murder is never a justifiable solution; killing should not be allowed under the cloak of mercy. Instead, these problems should highlight a greater priority of public care and funding than passing a bill which allows doctors to become killers.
If introduced to mainstream medicine, mercy-killing will forever lurk in the limbo between mercy and murder. Nevertheless, the controversies of the euthanasia paradox are simply digressions from the true solution: mandating better healthcare and palliative care to the terminally ill. I shall leave you, the readers, with a choice: would you protect the right to life and display true compassion for fatally ill patients or submit to a policy which blatantly tries to dispose of them?
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