Is Pulling the Plug Murder?

I was in a conversation the other day about how hard of a decision it must be to tell the hospital to pull the plug on a loved one. I can’t even imagine how tough that must be emotionally. But are their immoral ethics behind pulling the plug for, say, Christians?

I have heard arguments that pulling the plug is effectively ending a life, so therefore it is murder. I don’t particularly agree with this belief for a variety of reasons. First, in many cases, the accident that places someone into intensive care is usually so horrible that it would have naturally killed the victim. However, our technology is at a state where we can still keep that person alive (despite being brain dead). Still, I would argue that keeping them alive does not mean they are living. The spark of who the victim once was is gone entirely – the world is dead to them, and they are to the world.

We keep our loved ones alive, despite all indications that they will never recover, because it is so hard to let go; we hold on to what we hope to happen. If someone asks me if pulling the plug is murder, it is evident that it is not. The motive (in most instances) comes from love. It is accompanied by feelings of intense sadness and despair. Hardly the nature how we define murder.

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7 Responses

  1. I’ve been in that position myself, but the person in question had always said that being a vegetable was never an option. I therefore had no doubts. Most important though, I knew that as the brain had been without oxygen for a while, it would mean that there would be nothing left of the person. The person was de facto dead, even if they could keep the shell alive.

    I hope the same is done to me if I’m going to be an empty shell of myself.

  2. I agree with you Strappado, I would never want to be a financial or emotional burden on any of my loved ones.

  3. I think that many people would not argue with you. But the fear that motivates the intensity of this argument is the “slippery slope” that it could create. I am not one of them, and generally have no opinion on this topic. However, I can see how this same principle could be applied to the mentally handicapped who cannot feed themselves. Is not feeding them murder? Is it neglect? If it is manslaughter brought about by neglect, are we not neglecting the “brain dead” if we do not continue to supply the electricity tot he machine that keeps them alive?

    Legally, as well as ethically, it is a VERY sticky situation. With a common law court system, the implications cannot be glossed over. (not at all saying that you are glossing over them either)

  4. Pulling the plug on Terri Schiavo in 2005 was murder.

  5. I just can’t believe that machines that are needed to sustain life are acceptable. Without technologies that feed, breathe, and cleanse the blood…life could and should end. When life is not sustainable except with the battery operated complex machines that carry out natural life, it is time to let go. We all die, but is it the living who have the hardest time with the good-bye…?

  6. Justin,
    This could be a problem for me in the near future. My mother is 95 and suffers from dementia. She is the world’s finest mother and I am a mama’s boy, so I pray that I am not put in this position. However being a Christian I think man’s machines are not part of God’s plan and that understanding might make it easer.

  7. There is a time to live and a time to die, we’re all gonna die some day yet man has the ability to help return us our health so we may continue on with our lives. But we must be open to the fact that man doesn’t know everything to keep a person from dieing. For instance once a person is braindead machines may control his or her body yet they will become a robot and not be able to think how he or she would have if she were off the machine.

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