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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Ethics


TNG Season 5 Episode 16
Air Date: March 2nd, 1992

Lt. Worf is involved in an accident that causes him to be paralyzed. Doctor Crusher secretly brings in an expert in repairing these kinds of injuries but everything that might help is experimental. Worf being Klingon refuses to live a life where he can't be a warrior and asks his friend Cmdr. Riker to help him commit suicide. Riker refuses because he doesn't believe in suicide and uses Worf's son to convince him to live with his disability. But he learns about an experimental treatment could replace his spine with one that is grown using his DNA. He accepts this treatment and almost dies from it, but in the end it is a success.

The episode is called ethics for what I can tell is two reasons. The first is the issue of assisted suicide. In 1992 when this episode aired, it was illegal in the US for terminally ill patients to commit suicide to escape the inevitable painful death. Today eight states have programs and laws that allow for assisted suicide. But what Worf wants is more extreme. He is not terminally ill. He just can't walk anymore. They even had a treatment that would give him back 60% of his mobility but to a Klingon that is not enough.

The other issue is that of experimenting on people for medical research. Doctor Russell is brought in to help figure out a treatment for Worf, only throughout the episode she uses experimental procedures to help people, and in some cases it has a negative effect. This makes Doctor Crusher really angry and she almost doesn't allow Doctor Russell to help Worf because of it.

Quotes

"I have a personal favor to ask." - Lt. Worf
"Name it." - Cmdr. Riker
"I want you to assist me in performing the Hegh'bat ceremony. I want you to help me die." - Lt. Worf

"Remember Sandoval? Hit with a disrupter blast two years ago - she lived for about a week... Fang-Lee, Marla Aster, Tasha Yar? How many men and women, how many friends have we watched die? I've lost count. Every one of them, every single one fought for life until the very end!" - Cmdr. Riker
"I do not welcome death, Commander." - Lt. Worf
"Are you sure? Because I get the sense you're feeling pretty noble about this whole thing. Look at me! Aren't I courageous, aren't I an honorable Klingon? Let me remind you of something. A Klingon does not put his desires above those of his family, or his friends." - Cmdr. Riker

"Will you, or will you not, help me with the Hegh'bat?" - Lt. Worf
"You are my friend. And in spite of everything I've said, if it were my place, I would probably help you. But I have been studying Klingon ritual and Klingon law, and I've discovered it is not my place to fill that role. According to tradition, that honor falls to a family member, preferably the oldest son." - Cmdr. Riker
"That is impossible. He is a child." - Lt. Worf
"The son of a Klingon is a man the day he can first hold a blade. True?" - Cmdr. Riker
"Alexander is not fully Klingon. He is part Human!" - Lt. Worf
"That's an excuse. What you really mean is, it would be too hard to look at your son and tell him to bring you the knife, watch you stab it into your heart, then pull the knife out of your chest and wipe your blood on his sleeve. That's the rite of death, isn't it? Well, I'm sorry Mr. Worf, I can't help you. There's only one person on this ship who can." - Cmdr. Riker

"The first tenet of good medicine is, never make the patient any worse. Right now, Worf is alive and functioning. If he goes into that operation, he could come out a corpse." - Doctor Crusher

"I need you to help me." - Lt. Worf
"Anything, Father." - Alexander
"I have taught you about Klingon customs, the beliefs which we value. According to a tradition, I must take my life, after suffering this kind of injury. But I have decided to break with tradition. I have decided to live." - Lt. Worf
"I'm glad, Father." - Alexander
"I will still have to undergo a dangerous operation. I may still die. But it will not be by my own hand. Return this to our quarters." - Lt. Worf

"I am delighted that Worf is going to recover. You gambled, he won. Not all of your patients are so lucky. You scare me, Doctor. You risk your patients' lives and justify it in the name of research. Genuine research takes time, sometimes a lifetime of painstaking, detailed work in order to get any results. Not for you. You take shortcuts, right through living tissue! You put your research ahead of your patients' lives. And as far as I'm concerned, that's a violation of our most sacred trust. I'm sure your work will be hailed as a stunning breakthrough. Enjoy your laurels, Doctor. I'm not sure I could." - Doctor Crusher

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