It's the reason George killed Lennie: He wanted to put Lennie out of his misery before the ranch hands could torture him.
Mercy is something we're taught, some of us through religion and some through real experience. I was devastated when my first dog was euthanized, but I came to realize it was the humane choice because he had broken his back and was in constant pain.
In certain cases, I do think euthanasia for humans is the hard-but-right choice to make. According to a 2007 Gallup Poll, 71 percent of Americans support euthanasia for terminally ill patients and 27 percent oppose such measures. Those decisions should be left to families; government should play as minor a role as possible in the right to die.
Doctor-assisted suicide occurs when a terminally ill patient seeks a physician to grant access to lethal substances that the patient can take on his own. Conversely, euthanasia occurs when the doctor administers the lethal dose to the patient.
There may be cases when doctor-assisted suicide or euthanasia is the right choice. If a patient is facing pancreatic cancer, just wilting away, and loses all the happiness of life to constant agony, doctor-assisted death may be a legitimate option. The government ought not to take that option off the table.
Christianity is decidedly against assisted suicide. According to a National Catholic Bioethics Center article, "Human life is an inviolable gift from God. Our love of God and His creation should cause us to shun any thought of violating this great gift through suicide or euthanasia."
The Catholic Church's position on this issue is nonsensical and I vehemently disagree with it. I own my body. In a free society, you should be able to do whatever you wish with your body.
Some may smoke "death sticks," but we do not restrict them because cigarettes are deleterious to your health and their usage conflicts with our personal morality or religion. Instead we allow people to make their own decisions and deal with the self-inflicted consequences, whether they are good or bad.
It's not the role of government to protect us from ourselves by limiting freedoms. The government should have no authority to deny voluntary consumption of any substances, and doctor-assisted suicide fits under that umbrella.
I'm not saying everyone with cancer should be euthanized, but I am saying it should be legal for people to solicit doctors to perform life-ending procedures with the utmost respect. Life is valuable, but is it worth living in a constant state of misery and discontent?
On Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court declared a 1994 law that criminalized the public advertisement of assisted suicide unconstitutional, a victory for right-to-die supporters and a possible sign of where the debate is heading. Currently, only three states — Washington, Montana and Oregon — allow assisted suicide. The scarcity of such services has promoted "death tourism" to Switzerland, the only place in the world where anyone, regardless of residency, can go for assisted suicide.
The right to die is a morbid topic that turns people's stomachs. The right to life necessitates a right to death. What would life be without death?
The entire debate is part of a larger issue: Who decides liberty and who decides morality? The answer to both questions is the same: the individual.
Let people do what their hearts desire so long as they don't breach the life, liberty or property of someone else.
Chris Ceresa is a math and classics junior at UF. His column appears on Fridays.