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Subject of my today’s Post is extremely confusing and difficult also to reach any concrete conclusion. It is such a long standing and controversial debate which has no end because both the groups of thought have hundreds of arguments in pros and cons. Here, my Readers will find my sincere attempt to study the issue neutrally without any approval or disapproval to it from my end. The issue of ‘Mercy Killing’ or in other word ‘euthanasia’ has been debated all over the world for many years and here I am like one of them entering the debate. Mahatma Gandhi has said, “Our life is a long and strenuous quest of truth.” As previously said in some my blog post, we can reach a truth, but we cannot reach the truth.
Now, let us know first what kind of killing this is. As in my title above, the words ‘mercy’ or ‘merciful’ are common; but ‘killing’ and ‘death’ are different though to be meant in the same meaning as ‘to end the life’. I have traced out two definitions by surfing the Internet: (1) An easy or painless death or intentional ending of the life of a person suffering from incurable or painful disease at the patient’s request. (2) The intentional termination of the life of one human being by another.
Both these definitions represent the same thing in different manners; but, I would like to name the first as “Merciful Death” and the second as “Mercy Killing”. Why? It is obvious that in “Merciful Death”, the consent of the person being ceased to live is included into the action; but, in second one, it does not seem so and the decision and/or action is being taken by other than the patient and therefore echoing the meaning ‘killing’ therein. The “Merciful Death” becomes the “Mercy Killing” in the cases when the patient slips into coma (or is brain dead) or the patient is a child unable to speak or it is still in mother’s womb.
Many Medical Organizations, Ethical Institutions, Governments and their Judicial Systems and also many Humanist Individuals worldwide disapprove such practice of terminating human lives on the basis of ‘mercy’ under their various arguments related to ethics, public opinions, medical traditions and fundamental right of human being to live as long as it is in Power of the Almighty Creator and also the respective person is able to live the life.
But, ideologies and realities are different. It is easy to condemn such killings for those who are not put in such a critical situation and also have not come under tension of taking such hard decisions. Merciful Death or Mercy Killing must have the strong reasons to justify such as unbearable pain, physical discomfort or loss of quality life. In the words of Darwin’s theory, we may say that the person deserving ‘Mercy killing’ is not fit to survive. The reason of ‘treatment is too expensive and time-consuming’ is not an acceptable excuse for such killings.
Such termination of life can be handled with the collective decision of patient and/or nearest relatives, doctors, State laws and also Judicial System. Such a very paining and hard task, in case of any attempt at recovery seems futile, may be undertaken simply by withholding or withdrawing medical treatments or life supporting systems. In view of some people, installing of such life supporting system is not an act of saving life and, similarly, removing it will not be an act of killing. Sometimes, certain permitted and medically approved methods such as using a lethal injection are practiced. At the first sight, such an act undertaken by a Physician may seem to be a cold blooded murder of the patient; but it is not so. This is simply a Physician assisted suicide of a terminally ill patient. Here, such act is not a killing but it is the mercy towards the patient or we may call it as a part of caring of him.
Between the lines, let me tell my Readers frankly that I do not expect the words of appreciation or a pat on my back for presentation of this informative Article as the real credit goes to our family members Dr. Zohrin A. Musa, M.D. (Radiologist) (Gold Medalist) and Dr. Anish Musa, M.S. (Opthalmologist) for their guidance and specific information provided specially here below.
Now, I’ll take the issue of unborn babies on debate. Under advanced technology in the medical field, some prenatal tests can forecast the children’s congenital defects of the head, face, hands, feet etc.. In such cases, if the mercy killing of the foetus (fully developed baby) is in the best interest of the child and of the family, many people support it, though it being shocking but, as a mother’s rightto have an abortion. Medically and also ethically, the foetus and newborn baby have no any sharp distinction. But difficulty is that the diagnosis of the problem in discussion can be done only in the state of foetus only; and in genuine cases, if the abortion becomes the must, it may be carried out though it becomes an act of killing just as a newly born child. We should bear it in our mind clearly that the sex selective abortion is the greatest crime and it is not permitted by any State and Religious laws.
Plastic and Reconstructive surgery is a medical specialty, now a days, and through which the child’s physical deformity can be corrected and a more normal appearance can be restored in cases of cleft lip or palate, abnormal head shape, jaw deformities etc.. Facial ugliness only is not the strong base for killing a child. In brief to say, the ‘mercy killing’ may be allowed in the cases of severely disabled unborn babies only though it may be regrettable but overall it must be admirable.
Before I conclude my Article, I would like to appreciate all those parents worldwide living or deceased who might have preferred to let their helpless children take birth in spite of the medical advice of opting abortions. They people have accepted the challenge to fight against the destiny of the children as well as their own families. They people have spent a lot of money either their own or borrowed for the repeated costly Plastic surgeries of their babies. Salutes especially to those mothers who had not seen their children yet as still they were in their wombs and allowed them to come out and breathe the fresh air of this world.
Summing up my Article here, I have simply to say that the subject discussed above is of an ongoing debate which has no any definite conclusion being it sensitive, confusing, sentimental and solely subjective also.
Hope the Article aimed at the parentsbe commented feeling free.
– Valibhai Musa
Dtd.: 25th January, 2008