The Case for Mercy-Killing Essay

1510 Words 7 Pages
Two patients share a hospital room. By miraculous circumstance, they are both suffering identical cases of late stage terminal cancer, and both have expressed firmly that they don’t want their lives to be artificially extended. Patient A has contracted a hospital-borne infection, and will die quickly if this infection is not treated. This being the case, the doctors decide to take no action, allowing Patient A to die from the infection. This raises the question: what does this choice imply for Patient B? Should he be allowed to choose active euthanasia to combat his suffering? I will argue that there is no moral distinction between letting Patient A die and “killing” Patient B. I will do so by looking at each patient’s …show more content…
Yahtzee. Consistent with their previous choice, Patient A and the doctor refuse to administer the antibiotics necessary to treat the infection, bumping his checkout time up by a considerable amount. This decision is arbitrary, and supporting it is not consistent with the stance that active euthanasia is wrong. Consider an otherwise healthy man, Patient C, who contracts a mild staph infection from his office’s poorly-maintained bathroom. A doctor who fails to treat this infection, leading to complications and death, would “certainly be to blame for what he had done, just as he would be to blame if he had needlessly killed the patient” (Rachels, 291). To say that Patient C’s case is different from the case of Patient A is disingenuous. “It’s okay to let Patient A’s infection go untreated because he was already fated to die.” Aren’t we all? To withhold treatment from Patient A because of his cancer would be the same as withholding treatment from Patient C because he might, one day a few weeks down the line, walk under a crane and have a piano dropped on him. In both cases, the doctor doesn’t know when or how the patient will die. Whether it’s three weeks or two weeks; whether it’s brain death, cardiac arrest, or acute cerebral contusion caused by the high velocity impact of a large musical instrument. This is not to say that it is morally wrong to withhold Patient A’s treatment. It’s my stance that anything which reduces the time she has to spend in

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