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Mercy Killings Must Remain Rare

Curt Doty and Deborah Rockstrom knew the consequences when they decided to kill helpless loved ones, critically injured in tragic accidents.

In February, Rockstrom turned herself in to Spokane police after smothering her paralyzed teenage daughter.

Doty was willing to sacrifice his freedom last November when he shot his comatose brother twice in the head at the Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene. He pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter this week and now faces a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

Most of us empathize with Doty, Rockstrom and their families and might like to see light sentences, or charges dropped against them. There but for the grace of God …

But mercy killings aren’t that simple.

They involve a serious crime, a crime that deserves prosecution and at least some period of incarceration to deter others from the same act.

Mercy killings are uncommon, with only 109 documented cases in the United States since 1980, according to the Hemlock Society USA. We need to keep them rare.

Interestingly, while groups like the Hemlock Society push euthanasia, propagandizing with episodes like the two Inland Northwest mercy killings, disabled-rights organizations want stricter charges and penalties for such cases. They know severely disabled people are at risk if society embraces mercy killing and continues its flirtation with euthanasia.

America’s experience with abortion should warn us. Roe vs. Wade made abortion legal in certain circumstances. Now, 1.5 million babies are aborted annually.

With that as a backdrop, consider euthanasia and the tendency of our impatient, aging society to avoid problems, inconvenience and suffering, at all costs.

Every life has value, no matter how incapacitated by injury, birth defect, disease or age. Some of life’s deepest lessons are learned in dealing with a severely disabled loved one - lessons such as patience, compassion, humility.

A Spokesman-Review staffer has learned to rely on others, trust professionals, and look at life differently since her father was incapacitated by Alzheimer’s disease. She’s met wonderful people through her painful experience and now is able to help others similarly suffering.

She and thousands like her have been made stronger by facing a family crisis others desperately try to avoid. Those who embrace life with all its difficulties keep us from stepping onto the slippery slope of euthanasia.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board

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