Wang Ching-hsi is escorted by police

After reading about an 84-year-old man in Taipei who helped
his wife to die, I thought that the concept of “mercy killing” needs to be examined more carefully. The wife of Wang
Ching-hsi
had Parkinson’s disease and was bed-ridden with two broken
legs. They were a lonely, but financially comfortable couple. Mr Wang wrote at
least two blog entries about euthanasia and suicide on November 27 and December
5.

On December 26 he acted. He drugged his
wife with sleeping pills and then took a screwdriver and hammered it into his
wife’s skull. There was very little bleeding. Then he rang the police and told
them: “I killed my wife. Please send someone
here to take care of the rest.” He also rang his pastor and asked him to come
to pray over his wife’s body.

Mr Wang
later told police that he and his wife had agreed years ago to end each other’s
lives if one of them were to suffer from a severe illness. The couple’s two
sons are living in the US. One of them flew back for the court appearance but
quickly returned. The other did not come at all.

The
trouble with mercy killing is that it is indistinguishable from murder, the
intentional killing of another human being with premeditated malice. How does
one distinguish between a husband who kills an invalid wife to end her
suffering and a husband who kills an invalid wife to end her snoring? Answer: ending suffering takes months of planning. Ending snoring takes a brain explosion.The premeditation seems to add to the guilt, because the husband had time to seek help and consider other options. 

There seems
to be an increase in the invocation of mercy killing as an excuse for murder. Also
in December, a Brooklyn man smothered his 86-year-old mother with a
pillow. Yefim
Tsirinsky
rang the police and told them: “My mother asked me to kill
her.”

We must not minimize the stress of caring for invalids, especially
without help from family members or governments. It can exhaust and demoralise
even a loving spouse. It is an indictment of a society that allows people to
bear a burden like this without help. But making a plan to kill a sick relative
is still murder. What else could it be?

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet.