The Mercy Killer

Sean Davidson.  A name that I would not have remembered easily if someone had told it to me under normal circumstances. But after seeing the news article on the so called “mercy killing” of his mother, the name stuck in my mind. A summary of the story – Davidson gave his mother a lethal dose of morphine because she was in pain and she was also unsuccessful at ending her own life through a hunger strike.  So he “mercifully” did what she asked him to do, help her die. He then wrote a book about it, the editors tried to change the final product, but the original manuscript was leaked, then he was arrested andis now  facing charges of attempted murder. And now he is advocating to start “dignity SA” to allow it to be legal to engage in “mercy killings” for those who choose it. To that I say – hogwash. First of all, was it being merciful or selfish? Since his mother was the one  going through the pain, what he heard and saw affected him as well, so  killing her would relieve him of the pain and sadness that he carried  because of his mother’s suffering. That does not give him the right to  take a life, because anyway you look at it, he killed her. It was  practically premeditated murder – he planned it, got the tools and  executed it; and he doesn’t even deny it. The cherry on top – casting  himself in a loving light, where he says it is all about dying with dignity. So what stops this from becoming murder? We are already killing off  unborn children, calling it the mother’s choice. So where will we draw  the line between “assisted suicide” and murder? Anyone could claim  that they “assisted” their relative to die because they were in pain,  when it actual fact they killed them to get rid of them so that they are  free of any responsibility when it comes to elderly people. One can  always claim it was the dead parent’s wish, but the dead can’t talk can  they? So now, Mr. Davidson wants to start Dignity SA, a sister organisation to Dignity New Zealand, the very place he will be facing charges. And there seems to be a lot of sympathetic people who identify with him and support his actions – which tells me there is a group of people who are sympathetic towards the murder of the elderly because they do not want them to suffer anymore pain than they have to. So the next step is to change the law of the land to accommodate them. So, we should all abandon any idea of love and value of one’s life the moment it becomes expedient to call it having mercy? And who made us the final determinants of how and when we should end a life? Because we can’t stand pain, we  vote to kill it off? In black African society, such things are unheard of. You do not go killing off the elderly just because they are suffering. You do what you can for them and let everything take its course. But since we are in the age of “enlightenment” it seems fit to ask everyone to abandon that way of thinking and embrace the new age mentality as this is the way of the future. And while we are at it, we should all be vegetarian because killing animals is the same as murder. Why isn’t that called mercy killing? You kill off a cow because you want to spare it from dying naturally. oh yeah, we are already doing that with cats, dogs and horses, to spare them pain. When someone injects a lethal dose of morphine into your body, the idea is to kill you, that is why it’s called a “lethal dose”. No matter if you give it to a frail mother, a new born child or a teenager. The moment we classify it as acting mercifully, then we have crossed the line and we have blood on our hands. And that is not easily removed. So Mr. Davidson does not have my sympathies, nor my support in starting Dignity SA. There is no dignity in what he did.  

2 thoughts on “The Mercy Killer

  • December 26, 2010 at 2:39 am
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    Thank you for your viewpoint, and while I broadly share your stance regarding assisted suicides, I do believe in certain circumstances it is warranted. In the countless wars, medics would give lethal doses of morphine to patients that couldn’t be saved – their bullet ridden bodies about to expire. I would like to hear how this differs from other terminally ill patients that have an equally short life expectation and diagnosis? Why is it acceptable to lessen a dying soldiers pain, but not that of a civilian?

    Secondly, the one thing that I believe you neglected to touch on, and which would have made the article balanced, is the wishes of the patient themself. That is the defining characteristic that sets apart murder from (assisted) suicide.

    I say again, while I broadly share your sentiments on assisted suicide, I do believe that some instances thereof should be allowed – provided it is adequately legislated and performed only be trained medical personnel, as is the case in Austria (if I recall the country correctly).

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  • Profile photo of Ntsane Ntsane
    January 13, 2011 at 8:36 am
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    Hi Julian,
    Thanks for your comment. Sorry I took a while to respond, was on holiday!
    As for your observations, firstly, we cannot equate war time and peace time behavior as the same. Otherwise it would mean that every soldier who has ever picked a gun is a murderer by the mere virtue of them killing someone. Yes, the doctors did do that, but as you pointed out, their bodies were bullet ridden and could not be saved. It is evident that they are going to die due to blood loss and damaged organs. The terminally ill patient however, is still able to wake up everyday and their situations can change sometimes, because people with terminal illnesses have been known to go into remission. So you can’t say it is evident that they are going to die because the doctor said they are – doctors are good but they have limitations, even if they have seen cases like those before.
    Secondly, does the wish of the patient to do mean that we should help them along? It is not only selfish but wrong on the part of the patient to put their blood on the hands of others, playing on people’s emotions concerning how they feel towards them. Just because they are family members it seems the merciful thing to do – and people stress the emotional elements of the situation so much that they overlook the facts of the matter, that even the person wishing to die is not the final authority over their own lives, because they did not bring themselves into the world. What right do they have to ask others (especially their children) to kill them off? If they desire to end their lives, let them do it themselves – let their blood be on their own hands.
    And legislation will not help the situation. People will kill other off and classify it as assisted suicide. If we say it can only be done in certain locations, one can argue that the patient did not want to go to hospital and wanted to die at home and so they “assisted” them. And we would be opening a door where it will eventually be legal to kill off mentally handicapped people, because they are “in pain and wish to end it”, when in actual fact we are simply releasing the person looking after them from that responsibility. Murder will become more civilised, but it will still be murder – we will just be saying how we are the most merciful people in the world.

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