Thursday, July 20, 2006


A doctor and two nurses in New Orleans have been charged with murder in what is an extraordinarily difficult case. They are accused of administering lethal doses of morphine to four gravely ill patients in a hospital during the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Is euthanasia ever justified? For most people, the answer is a simple no. It's murder, pure and simple.

Okay, but let's also consider the conditions at that hospital during the early days of last September: The building is completely surrounded by water, there's no electricity, the air conditioning is out, it's a hundred degrees inside with no air circulation, there's no water or food, and there's little prospect of evacuation anytime soon. Meanwhile, you've got a bunch of gravely ill people on your hands who are only there because they were too frail to transport even before the storm hit and conditions turned to shit. What do you do? Do you allow them to continue to suffer even though you know their death is certain? Or do you put an end to their misery? And does doing so make you guilty of playing God, or does it make you an angel of mercy?

I don't know what the answer is. But I do find it vaguely ironic that when we prematurely hasten the death of a suffering animal, we call it "humane."

0 thoughtful ramblings: