I think that mercy killing, or euthanasia, should be legalized.
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I hear that those who support mercy killing are charged with providing aid to suicide. But I think that supporting mercy killing is a kindness and a good conduct. A patient's family and doctors should do their best to remove his pain. When they can remove his pain and prolong his life, it is the best result. Even if they shorten his life by removing his pain, they should never be blamed.
So I think the laws should be changed. Though everyone's thought is most important, his thought about mercy killing must differ from each other. As an example, I describe here my thought about mercy killing.
Now I am 71 years old, I know nothing is immortal in this world, and I have left my genes for my descendants. I have no lingering attachment and dissatisfaction at my life. I positively hope for mercy killing when I (or a doctor) suppose that I cannot feel anything except pain any more. I do hope that time left under unendurable pain is as short as possible. My last wish is to leave this world quietly. I know the words, "The life of humans is heavier than the earth." I think this is the starting point when we consider about other people's weight of life but that my own weight should be decided by myself.
The Nikkei Newspaper (Apr. 22, 2002) said that "according to a ruling at Yokohama District Court in 1995, mercy killing must be fulfilled the following four conditions;
1) The patient is near his/her end.
2) The patient has unendurable pain.
3) All possible means to avoid the pain was attempted.
4) The patient expresses his/her own will to accept mercy killing.
I thought the above article showed the necessary and sufficient conditions. But Mr. Shimizu, a notary public, said on the Nikkei Newspaper (July 4, 2002) that the family and the doctor who did not prolong the patient's life are not investigated for the criminal liability, but people who hastened the patient's death by means of medicine or other methods are examined for the criminal liability.
We know well the death throes of many patients. Which is more inhuman? To be left under sharp pain against the patient's will, or to be killed when the patient can neither consent or refuse euthanasia. I think the former is more inhuman than the latter.
First we have to popularize the thoughts that mercy killing is not a criminal act but a good deed. This needs the help of the mass media. Next we have to legalize positive mercy killing. The Diet members do not take a positive attitude toward this problem because the legalization does not increase the number of those who vote for them. I hope that the mass media will campaign for the legalization of mercy killing. Maybe patients basically have no problem. They only have to choose "prolonging life treatment," "dignified death," or "mercy killing." The family of the patient maybe worry about the decision that shortens his life span. So it is important to explain their intention to their family and persuade them in advance.
I do not think that time should be wasted to verify the fulfilment of the above four conditions and to make an agreement with patient's family. It is most important how quickly the patient's pain is removed.
From a practical viewpoint, the survey of the opinions of elderly people and of those who have suffered from serious illness about mercy killing should be made. It is important not to include the healthy young people's opinions in this survey. I think young people should use the results to understand old people's thought. After the legal environment prepared, hospitals must make the rules for such cases and prepare the form, which is filled in with the patient's intention.
Recently newspapers(the Asahi April 20 '02, December 6, '02 etc.) reported that a doctor, who worked for the Kawasaki-Kyodo Hospital, was prosecuted for killing her asthmatic. If the above form had been prepared at the hospital, she would not have been prosecuted. It is important to report such uncommon case. But I think it is more important to investigate and report about many patients who want mercy killing and to know that their will is ignored.
By writing about my thoughts, I could get a convincible conclusion and feel peace of mind. I would like to devote myself to enjoying my life as long as possible while I am healthy.
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April 29, 2002
revised December 29, 2002
corrected March 10, 2003(by an English teacher)