4-1 Discussion: Mercy Killing Discussion Topic
Starts Nov 16, 2019 11:59 PM
Laura, a 19-year-old woman, fell into a coma because of an overdose of drugs and alcohol. She was given emergency treatment at a hospital and was placed on a respirator, which stabilized her breathing. She remained in a deep coma, and when she was tested by neurologists and neuro-surgeons it was discovered that about 70 percent of her brain was irretrievably damaged. She was not brain dead, however: She reacted to pain, her eyes sometimes would open and her pupils contract, she would at times thrash about, and her EEG showed some brain activity. She was in a PVS. Because she could not be pronounced dead in any medical or legal sense, the hospital and doctors refused to take her off the respirator or to stop any other treatments they were giving her. At one point Laura’s sister was alone in the room with her and, thinking that Laura wouldn’t want to live on in this way, she disconnected the respirator and caused her sister’s death.
- Under these circumstances, do you feel Laura’s sister was justified in performing a mercy killing?
- Was this murder? Is murder morally wrong? Was Laura’s sister morally wrong?
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Reply 1: Kelly O’Connor
In this story I am a little torn on my feelings and opinions from the situation. I have watched family members suffer from serious illnesses that I wish, if they chose to do so, they could end their own life rather than suffering. However, I also do not believe that killing another human being is morally correct.
In this case, the woman overdosed on alcohol and drugs and did this to herself. I understand the sister was thinking she would not want to live this way and thought she was making the right decision and doesn’t want to see her live this way, but the sister abused her body knowing the side affects of drinking and doing drugs.
I don’t think I would consider this murder as she did not set out to kill her sister. She was doing what she thought was best and what her sister would want or not want in this situation. I do think she was morally incorrect as it is not up to anyone to decide that someone should not live. Whether the person knows the other does or doesn’t want to live life the way they are.
It is not morally correct to murder another human being. In this case it was not the sister’s decision to decide whether or not the sister should live. I think if it was me I would have chosen to turn around and leave the room and maybe not visit with the sister until I had a chance to work through the thoughts that were going on in my head.
Reply 2: Zoe Stoddart
This is a really hard subject and a very personal one. In this circumstance Laura only has about 30% of her brain that is undamaged. She is in a constant vegetative state and unable to live on her own . She is living by machine. While she is still showing brain activity her quality of life is greatly affected by her circumstance and if she does ever come out of the coma she will never be the same as she was before. How bad off she will be is not known but we can only go by our gut feeling and the history of our life. If she is unable to feed herself or learn the joy of living is it worth keeping her alive with support in the hopes that she wakes up? Assuming that Laura had been in the coma for an ample amount of time and no progression had been made I believe that her sister was justified in her decision to end Laura’s life. She seems to have done it out of sympathy and the knowledge that her sister would not want to live like that.
Even though I find the sisters decision justified I still believe it to be murder. The very definition of her actions is murder. Knowing that pulling the plug would end her sisters life she proceeded to do it anyway. Just because an action is justified does not mean that it is the right thing to do. I do believe that murder in itself is wrong but can be justified under different circumstance. A bank robber that kills a bank teller to get something that is not theirs is a wrong and definitely not a moral action. However, someone that takes pity and mercy on someone that they love and do not want to see suffering may go against their moral standards but is still justified in their actions since they are doing it for the greater good.