Mercy killing still a hot button issue, but is it changing?

Updated: 2014-01-14 11:18

By Chen Jia (China Daily USA)

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Hanging over the grey area of the law,the topic of euthanasia haslongbeen debated inboth China and the United States, with more and more people developing a more open and tolerant attitude towards it.

Though voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide are not as taboo anymore in some states of the United States, recent California headlines just put the country's media back on an old discussion track again - what is a good death?

The discussion has been triggered by a court battle between a children's hospital and an Oakland family overthe fate of a brain-dead 13-year-old California girl, Jahi McMath.

The hospitalwanted to help her life end asit was "basically organ support" rather than "life support". But the family refused and insisted on praying for her to wake-up, even though their finances couldn't afford to keep her body on a ventilator for long.

No one wouldn't be touched and feel sorry for the family when the mother told a local television station that the family couldn't imagine how the hospital could think of ending her daughter's life with New Year's Day around the corner.

The family won a court order to transfer the girl to an undisclosed care facility.

However, many medical ethicists were brave enough to step forward and challenge people's sympathy and their stereotype about death. They criticized the operators of the unnamed facility and said that it had nothing to do with saving the child's life but would rather cause long-term financial and emotional harm to the McMath family.

"What could they be thinking? Their thinking must be disordered, from a medical point of view, there is a word for this: crazy," Laurence McCullough, a professor at the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston,told USA Today.

Mercy killing still a hot button issue, but is it changing?

San Francisco attorney Christopher Dolan has also beenwidely blamedfor giving false hope to the desperate family, said a report in the Los Angeles Times.

It said at least three neurologists had confirmed Jahi was unable to breathe on her own, because there was no blood flow to her brain and had no sign of electrical activity three days after sheunderwent a surgery on Dec 9, 2013.

The surgery at Children's Hospital Oakland removed her tonsils, adenoids and uvula and then the girl went intocardiac arrest, which causedextensivehemorrhagingin her brain. Alameda County coroner had issued a death certification for the girl.

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