Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It's Mercy Killing, Plain and Simple

Today, Alex Schadenberg sent out a link to an online poll on euthanasia, asking his readers to answer the question with a firm NO.

I clicked the link, thinking that these polls probably have no effect upon anything whatsoever, read the question, hit NO, then scrolled down to the see results thus far. I was shocked.

Here is the question:

Should doctors be allowed to hasten the deaths of terminally ill patients?.It's a situation too agonizing to contemplate — a child dying and in pain. Now a small but provocative study suggests that doctors may be giving fatal morphine doses to a few children dying of cancer, to end their suffering at their parents' request.
- MSNBC on newsvine.com

And the results 33.8% voted NO, 2.5% voted DON't KNOW, and 63.7% voted YES.

I was shocked. This is the first poll that I have read where the overwhelming majority voted for euthanasia.

But you know the question is very slanted. It is written in such a way as to make you think that the compassionate response is to "morphine" the patient to death. As Herm Wills, president of Campaign Life Coalition here in Nova Scotia, says: "Are we now in the eleventh hour? More and more the polls are softening on euthanasia. The media is framing the debate and the mindset of fellow citizens."
What the question doesn't say is that this is giving control over life and death to a person, and the last time I checked, people are notoriously bad when it comes to those types of issues. They simply cannot be trusted.

Isn't this why Hippocrates wrote the Hippocratic Oath?

I swear by Apollo the Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods, and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:
To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art–if they desire to learn it–without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken the oath according to medical law, but to no one else.

I will apply dietic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.

I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.

Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.

What I may see or hear in the course of treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep myself holding such things shameful to be spoken about.

If I fulfill this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot.
- Wikipedia

This is what doctors used to swear when they became doctors; I have heard that certain parts have been removed from the text now (the bit about abortion for instance) and I think there are some schools where this oath is not even part of the graduation ceremony at all.

Without such an oath, what do we have to hold doctors to be men of integrity? What reference do they adhere to when making life and death decisions - their own conscience? formed by medical schools filled with instructors who have unformed consciences as well?

We have lost all reason in this debate. It began with abortion and the right-to-lifers knew what they were saying when they predicted that it would be a slippery slope to euthanasia. We have been, over the years, guided by the emotions of the masses into thinking that euthanasia, mercy killing, assisted suicide are all okay. We have really lost the sense of duty about protecting life at all costs. It has been cheapened to this point, where we deem it more merciful to kill dying children rather than show them true mercy by making their last days filled with care and love.

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