Mercy Killing

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Submitted By scheek555
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The phrase “mercy killing” refers to someone taking a direct action to terminate a patient’s life without the patient’s permission. The decision to take such an action is often made on the assumption that the patient’s life is no longer “meaningful” or that if the patient were able to say so, s/he would express a desire to die. The means include the administering of poison, massive overdose of drugs, shooting, and so on (Thiroux and Krasemann, 448). Whereas “mercy deaths,” is voluntary and done with the permission of the patient and usually at his or her request (Thiroux and Krasemann, 184). Mercy killings occur more often in the United States than one realizes. This is legally a form of murder. Yet mercy killers are seldom convicted of first-degree murder. In fact, they receive leniency in punishment (Lavi, 145).

In 1923, for example, the Greenfield’s son, Jerome, was born with a condition of gradual mental degeneration. Despite his retardation, at the age of sixteen, he was well-developed physically but he could not talk, only babble (Lavi, 147). Following Jerome being banned from public school, due to his “social and intellectual unfitness,” his loving parents, Louis and Anna, solely took care of him in their small apartment in the Bronx. As Jerome grew worse, his parents began to mentally and physically decline.

On January 12, 1939, Mr. Greenfield asked his wife to go to their millinery shop to assist his partner. While Jerome slept, Louis took handkerchiefs, that he purchased months in advance, and soaked them with chloroform and placed them over his nose and mouth for about 15 minutes before notifying authorities.

As a result, Louis Greenfield was indicted on the charge of first-degree manslaughter for killing his son. During the trail, Greenfield’s attorney argued for acquittal on the basis of temporary “defective reasoning” brought on…...

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