Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Euthanasia: An Act of Mercy, Murder, or Defiance against the Will of God?

A few days ago, on January 12, I wrote down a dilemmatic topic on my Facebook status, “Euthanasia: an act of mercy, murder, or defiance against the will of God?”
The idea came up in my mind after reading my ex-schoolmate’s statuses. Her father’s suffering from lung cancer and has to go through biopsy. The doctors have predicted he’s got less than 1.5 years to live. My friend, struck and shocked by the verdict, poured out her emotions by writing statuses about her father’s latest updates. So we all knew what was happening every single day in their home.
I know how burdensome and painful the ordeal she and her family have to face these days. I, too, have been through the same trial, over and over again: watching the people I loved struggling at the brink of death until the day of their departure. So far I’ve lost my parents, my mother-in-law (my father-in-law had departed over a decade before she did), my uncles and my brother – not to mention witnessing so many others (relatives and friends) dying on hospital beds.
Many of my beloved ones died of terminal diseases. It was a great grievance and burden to see them suffer, to watch the disease prevailing in their gradually weakened bodies. It was pure torture! Sometimes I felt so stricken at watching them writhed in insurmountable pain while deep inside I didn’t want to let them go to gain eternal peace. On one hand, I felt so selfish for keeping them alive, on the other, I realized that taking one’s life a second too soon was murder.
Euthanasia is a means of ending a patient’s suffering when there is no longer hope for survival. Depends on the circumstances, this step is medically ethical and permissible. However, is it ethical and permissible when it comes to conscience’s sake?
A minute after I floored the question, my friend angrily commented, “It’s defiance against the will of God! Murder!”
Another ex-schoolmate commented the same.
Two of my ex-campus mates said they couldn’t give a sure answer before personally undergoing the similar circumstances (I do hope and pray they’ll never undergo such circumstances!). So did one of my teachers.
My ex-high-school classmate and my former teacher at elementary school agreed that the issue was highly dilemmatic. They’ve both got parents who pleaded with them to let the doctors shoot them dead rather than undergoing seemingly-never-ending pain and torture. But the two of them hadn’t had the heart to allow it.
Finally, I asked an old friend of mine (he’s a pastor) to comment on the topic. He, too, agreed that the question was very hard to answer. But at least, he said, euthanasia could be classified into active and passive. Active euthanasia, which means injecting an overdose of morphine to “put the patient to sleep,” is not acceptable to any faith – and best be rejected. On the other hand, passive euthanasia, meaning: refusing the use of medical instruments such as oxygen pumps and its sort, and letting the patient die a normal death, is more tolerable when it comes to conscience’s sake.
I thanked him for the answer, which brought enlightenment to all who had commented on my status. I guess that’s one of the good uses of Facebook: to bring up important discussions concerning daily questions in life and to try to find a solution for the better days ahead.
Have a great day, All!

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