Over at The Doctor is In, Dr. Bob is discussing one of the most recent developments in the Katrina mess: euthanasia of critically ill patients.
Like Dr. Bob, I find these new stories that are surfacing out of the aftermath to be very disturbing. Dr. Bob states very nicely that:
I have written before on my concerns about the practice of active euthanasia (here and here), which arise not merely because of my Christian convictions about its morality, but perhaps equally so because of the great potential danger I see in breeching the moral and social levies which protect us from hubris and the creeping progressive tolerance of evil inherent when crossing them. The weariness of great tragedy saps the spirit, making it all to easy to rationalize the repulsive, to move on to the next horrid scene without reflecting on the last. But sometimes we must stop and focus amid the deadening blur of death and suffering. This story demands such a pause.
The doctors in New Orleans are calling their actions merciful by not abandoning their critically ill to the armed looters but I agree that by euthanizing their patients,
they were abandoned–abandoned by their providers and sworn protectors, those whom they trusted to comfort, heal, and protect them.
Dr. Bob recognizes that he doesn’t know what he would do if he were in a similar situation but I think that his next questions really do need to be adressed by the New Orleans physicians:
But still I must ask: you killed them? Actively, deliberately, methodically? What has occurred here, it seems, steps over a line clearly blurred by the panic, fear, and hopelessness of a terrible storm and its even more horrible aftermath–the opportunism of human evil in the face of Nature’s wrath–into the realm of a darkness far deeper than wind and water and chaos could wreak. Have you not countered evil with evil? “And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?” Could not the morphine you used to end their lives be instead used to ease their pain, their fear, as you stood by their bedside doing what little you could to comfort them? It takes far more morphine to kill than to comfort. Could you not stand and defend them against the looters, the rapists, the thugs–though ill-equipped you might well lose your safety, your well-being, even your life. There is a word for those who act thusly, defending the weak against the strong at the cost of their lives: heroes. Did you not, by actively terminating their lives, avoid the shameful option of abandoning suffering and dying patients to save yourselves? They were condemned to die by their disease, by the untimely fate of a hospital in harm’s way, by social chaos and raging mobs. You are alive today because you expedited their inevitable death. But your life, so secured, is not enobled by this act: you may indeed find forgiveness, but the act remains: a dark mercy, an act of weakness, heinous forever.
I’d love to copy and paste the whole thing, but I’d rather stop here and tell you to go read [the rest of it](http://docisinblog.com/archives/2005/09/14/dark-mercy).
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I forwarded this article to two doctors in our Church. One teaches ethics and has encountered this relativism in his classes. – thanks!