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“And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in
the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”
Back in those days, murder was pretty clear cut. If you killed someone, it
was called murder. Of course, if you had a reason, then it was justifiable. Back
then, it was an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Or a life for a life. But
in these fast paced and politically correct times, is there justifiable murder?
Webster’s Dictionary says that murder is “the unlawful killing of another human
being, especially with premeditated malice.” Unlawful killing of another human
being. And most people would tend to agree, that there are circumstances in
which killing someone else is just fine, and even desirable. But what are
those circumstances? What exactly is justifiable killing? Is abortion OK?
How about war? Euthanasia? These are topics that are in hot controversy these
days, as civil rights groups battle political standings that have been around
for dozens of years.
Capital punishment is among those instances of justified killing that has been
debated for years, and continues to be an extremely indecisive and complicated
issue. Adversaries of capital punishment point to the Marshalls and the
Millgards, while proponents point to the Dahmers and Gacys. Society must be kept
safe from the monstrous barbaric acts of these individuals and other killers by
taking their ability to function and perform in our society away from them. At
the same time, we must insure that innocent people such as Marshall and Millgard
are never convicted or sentenced to death for a crime that they did not commit.
In February 1963, Gary McCorkell, a 19 year old sex offender, was scheduled to
hang. But just days before his execution, the then Liberal cabinet of Lester
Person commuted McCorkell to life in prison. His actual term was only a
percentage of that. Less than 20 years later, McCorkell was arrested, tried, and
convicted for the kidnapping and rape of a 10-year old Tennessee boy. He was
sentenced to 63 years in prison. Once again, his term was reduced, and he moved
to Canada. Prior to leaving Canada, he was sought by Metro Police in the
attempted murder of an 11-year old boy. What has been gained by this? Had
McCorkell been executed in 1963, two boys would never have gone through the
horror of being sexually abused. He killed two boys, and assaulted two others,
leaving one for dead. He knew exactly what he was doing. What right does this
man have to live? He ruined the lives of 4 children. What kind of a life would
the state have been taking away in this case? An innocent life? A forgiving
life? No; a life that was beyond the realm of reform, and did not care to be.
There are those who claim that capital punishment is in itself a form of
vengeance on the killer. But in the same light, locking a human being behind
steel bars for many years is vengeance as well. Adversaries of capital
punishment claim that incarceration is far more humane than having the state
execute that individual. Is it “humane” that an individual who took the life of
another should receive heating, clothing, indoor plumbing and 3 meals a day
while the homeless who has harmed no one receives nothing?
Capital punishment is not murder. Murder is “unlawful killing.” Should it
remain lawful? Definitely. Capital punishment is retribution. Capital
punishment is a penalty for actions a person has committed. Will it reform
criminals? Perhaps, perhaps not. But capital punishment should not be
dismissed because it might not effectively reform criminals. Capital punishment
should be kept, in fact, because it removes from society permanently those
individuals which are undesirable and unhealthy to the rest of the community.
Capital punishment should remain lawful, and therefore, not murder.
Abortion has also been hotly debated over the years. Is abortion lawful killing?
Although both sides seem to be in utter disagreement, there are many agreements
that neither realize. Both would agree that the life of a child is a precious
thing that must be protected to the fullest extent of the law. They would also
agree that it is a woman’s exclusive right to make decisions concerning her own
But what determines whether or not abortion is murder or not is: Is the fetus a
person? That question is what has been fought over for decades. In 1981 the U.S.
Senate Judiciary Subcommittee held hearings to discuss the question of when
biological life begins. The testimony was revealing. An overwhelming majority of
the experts answered emphatically that biological life begins at conception or
implantation. Although pro-abortionists failed to produce an expert witness who
would testify that life begins at some point other than conception or
implantation. they did present an interesting point of view, which has become
popular over the last several decades. This alternate viewpoint basically sees
all life as a continuum with no specific beginning. It considers the continuum
to run from sperm to egg, to singlecell zygote, to multi-cell blastocyst, to
embryo, to fetus, to newborn, etc. This view supports the rights of each mother
and doctor to individually choose when, in the continuum, the fetus becomes a
separate individual. Aside from the biological arguments, social issues have
always been part of the controversy. Many of the mothers that get abortions are
teenagers. Women from ages 17-21 have the highest abortion rate in a recent
study by the University of California. Babies born to these mothers are often
subject to poor lifestyles. The mothers are not fully capable of supporting
themselves without a child, and with the added burden of a new baby, they are
often driven to poverty. The child grows up in an environment that is unhealthy,
and often leads to violence. Additionally, more mothers in this age group than
any other abuse drugs and alcohol during pregnancy. The results are premature
birth, fetal alcohol syndrome, and low birth weight. These children have to go
through life with defects, malnutrition, and are often, throughout their lives,
underweight. By aborting these children, the unprepared mothers spare their
children from lives of misery, or even mental health problems. Pro-life
advocates suggest that an alternative to this is adoption or foster care. These
services, while sometimes productive, leave children feeling unwanted, unloved,
forgotten by their real parents, and still miserable. Also, adoption does not
save these children from fetal alcohol syndrome, or other birth defects. The
children will still have unproductive and generally unhappy lives, if even
conscious of their surroundings. Adoption does not spare these children from
lives of unhappiness, and can often produce, from its effect, criminals from the
neglect they felt as children growing up.
Abortion is not murder. The fetus is a living organism, yes; but so is the sperm
that provides of its genetic code, and the egg that provides the other half. A
plant is a living organism, but is not treated with such high reverence. The
fetus is not a living person, and thus abortion is not “unlawful killing of
another human being.” A woman has rights over her own body, and should be
allowed to do with it as she pleases. The fetus would not survive without the
nutrients provided by the mother, and therefore it is still an extension of her
body. Abortion is not murder, but an effective way to deal various social
problems ranging from unplanned pregnancy to the criminal population.
Euthanasia is the final topic of this paper. Euthanasia is the most recent
addition to the list of controversial methods of death. It was 1990 in Michigan
that Dr. Jack Kavorkian received national attention for his physician assisted
suicides. Is euthanasia murder? Should euthanasia be made “lawful killing?”
Euthanasia is the process of bringing death to patients that are willing,
because of incurable, painful illnesses, to die. We deserve the right to choose
when we will die. In a life full of unknowing, we should have at least the small
comfort of knowing that if we are deathly ill, we can choose whether or not we
will live in pain. There are now guidelines for physician assisted suicide.
The guidelines involve minimum amounts of time before euthanasia can be done,
and methods of going about it. The guidelines ensure that the suicide can’t be
done in error, that the diagnosis is 100% correct. They also ensure that there
will no lawsuits from anyone, and that each member of the parties invloved
have had ample time to think about the decision.
Last year, Janet Good, age 72, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and on
August 31, underwent a 10 hour surgery at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal
Oak. The prognosis was terminal. She went through hours of incredibly painful
radiation therapy to slow the cancer’s progress, but to no avail. Every day is
an ordeal. To simply get out of bed, she must take medicine to deal with the
pain. She has been working with Dr. Kevorkian since her operation. She believes
that every individual who is stricken with lifethreatening illness should have
the legal right to die, if and when they see fit. The doctors that assist in
these suicides are not murderers, they are heroes. They spare their patients
months or even years of excruciating pain when the final paramount to all their
suffering is death. By helping their patients die, they help them reach their
inevitable goal of death without the pain and suffering.
Euthanasia is not murder. The patients make a willful decision to die, and the
if the circumstance are right, the doctors help them by making their passage
into death as painless and quick as possible. Physician assisted suicide is by
far one of the most humane things to do. Horses are put to death if they break
or even sprain their leg because the leg will never heal. Dogs are put to death
if they contract incurable diseases to spare them the pain. Extending this
service to humans is natural and humane.
In today’s society, murder has become a controversial word. No longer is it as
simple as Cain and Able. Murder is not simply the killing of another human being,
but the unlawful killing of someone else. If that person commits an act that is
horrible and vicious enough to warrant death, then that is precisely what that
person should receive. If a mother does not wish to be pregnant, then it is her
right as a person to abort the fetus before it is born. If a person who is in
insufferable agony and pain wishes to die, then the only right thing to do is to
give them their wish. But the controversy surrounding these and other instances
of death will probably continue to divide the nation in two, and only when we,
as a country, define murder in absolute terms, can there be political and social
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