Topic: Euthanasia —— Scenario: Life Support
Molly was nearing the point at which she no longer believed her life was worth living. She had a rare disease that slowly eroded her mental functioning without affecting the health of her body. Within a year, she would be a mental vegetable. She wanted to end things now.
Dr. Grey was sympathetic, but he would not comply with Molly’s wishes for a lethal injection. “That would be murder,” he explained to Molly, “and I am a doctor, not a murder.”
“So when I go brain-dead, I’ll just be put on life-support for decades, draining away all of my family’s financial resources?” Molly asked.
That won’t be necessary,” Dr. Grey responded. “When you go brain-dead, we can stop feeding you.”
“What’s the difference?” Molly asked. “Either way you’re responsible for my death. And if you give me the lethal injection now, you save me a great deal of needless suffering.”
“The difference is between killing you and letting you die,” Dr. Grey replied. “And, as I said, I’m not a murderer.”
Questions to consider for your answer:
- Molly is asking for euthanasia, also known as “mercy killing.” Set aside questions of legality. Would Dr. Grey be doing something morally wrong if he gave Molly a lethal injection? What would be an argument for both sides?
- Is there really a difference between killing and letting die? Can you think of cases in which there is a clear moral difference between the two? Can you think of cases in which there is not a clear moral difference?
Then, analyze these questions: Is Molly wrong to ask for an early death? Is Dr. Grey acting immorally by rejecting her request? Make sure to make a firm claim about what you think is morally correct and offer an argument for why this is the case.