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Sunday, January 11, 2004

The Clear Choice

The other day I was lying in bed thinking about euthanasia. (Yes, I know, sounds a little morbid.) In Judaism, the highest value is placed on sustaining life, even a life that is evident that it will expire soon, even if that life is one of severe pain. There is a law in Judaism that one is not allowed to touch someone very near death lest it hasten their death even one moment sooner. Of course, the subject itself is somewhat complex and is beyond what I plan for this blog post so I'll just point in the direction of a thoughtful essay on the subject, Mercy Refined. What I was wondering was what about those who do not share such a belief and are pro euthanasia, mainly because they desire to end the suffering of terminally ill patients. It seems to me, that such a view stems from a bit of arrogance. The reason is because such a view has to maintain that it is certain that it knows for a certainty that there is nothing beyond death and that death is a better alternative to a soon-to-end painful life. But how do they make that determination? The fact of the matter is they do not know. If they were honest, they would have to at least be agnostic about it and say they do not know if death is a better alternative. However, once one says that, then the logical choice would be not to opt for euthanasia. Why? Because then there are two possibilities. If one is wrong in believing that death is not preferable to a terminally ill life and thus is against euthanasia, then the worst that could happen is that they prolonged the suffering of a human being. However, if one is wrong about believing that death is preferable, i.e. they are pro euthanasia, then what that means is they are promoting murder (or if they are the "mercy killer" they are the murderer). Clearly, the choice should be prolonging the life of a human (albeit a painful one) over the murder of that same human.


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