Friday, December 10, 2004

Euthanasia on ER

Last night's episode of ER featured a story where Dr. Jing-Mei Chen (played by Ming-Na), euthanizes her father as Dr. Greg Pratt (Mekhi Phifer) looks on. Earlier in the episode, Pratt discovered Chen's plan and attempts to stop her by trying to convince her that what she is planning to do is wrong and that her father should be in a nursing home instead. He seems to be eventually swayed to her side and even offers to euthanize Chen's father.

According to Chen, her father has been asking her to kill him for a while (the audience can't be sure because her father speaks mainly in Chinese to her). The whole reasoning behind Chen's decision to kill her father instead of putting him in a nursing home because she can't take care of him seemed extremely weak. I think she mentioned that she would be abandoning him by putting him in a nursing facility. This is odd as killing someone because you can't take care of them any longer is a final abandonment.

The episode (though I doubt it intended to do this) showed the dangerous power that some doctors think they should possess over life. Instead of healing and helping patients, some doctors believe that killing them is some kind of treatment for pain. After killing her father, Chen is shown and heard calling a hospitable or some other entity to lie about how her father died.

I hope that ER will do more than just leave their audience with the message that "euthanizing people is hard but sometimes necessary and morally ok."

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