- Types of Euthanasia
- Quality of Life
- Sanctity of Life
- Arguments for Voluntary Euthanasia
- Arguments Against E Voluntary Euthanasia
- Case Studies
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- Active euthanasia- The intentional premature termination of another person’s life.
- Passive euthanasia- Treatment is either withdrawn or not given to the patient in order to hasten death, This could include turning off a uk-support machine.
- Voluntary euthanasia- The intentional premature termination of another person’s life at their request.
- Involuntary euthanasia- This term is used when someone’s life is ended to prevent suffering, without their consent, even if they're capable of consenting
- PVS (permanent vegetative state)- When a patient is in this condition, doctors may seek to end their life. The relatives have to agree and usually the patient must be brain-stem dead
- Assisted dying/suicide- When a person takes their own life with the assistance of another person. Called physician-assisted suicide (if other person= doctor)
- Autonomy- In ethics this means freely taken moral decisions by an individual
- Slippery slope- This means that when one moral law is broken others will also be gradually broken and there will be no moral absolutes.
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Quality of Life
- By far the most common reason for Euthanasia is because a person’s quality of life has dropped below the point at which it is worth living anymore (e.g. people with terminal diseases who are in intense pain).
- It could be argued that people who are braindead (reduced\stopped functioning in brain or brain stem) may not even meet the critera for personhood, and are purely a set of organs being kept alive by machinery.
- Some would argue that it is never worth it to dispense a life, even if the person is in intense pain. They may believe in the sanctity of life principle (that all life is sacred and must be preserved) or they may believe that God should decide whether we live\die, or that suffering is part of God’s plan.,
- Such dilemmas are difficult to approach with a rational and detached state of mind. It is easy to hold a viewpoint but it is much more difficult when faced with a real-life dilemma.
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Sanctity of Life
- The Bible teaches that it is wrong to directly murder (Ex 20:13) but it suggests little to do with assisted suicide. Verses such as Gen 2:7 suggest that God is the ultimate authority over life and death, and we should let our lives end only when he chooses. The case study of Diane Pretty highlights the dilemmas surrounding euthanasia – the EU court of human rights would not allow her husband to travel with her to end her life abroad and she died in a hospice in 2002.
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Arguments for Voluntary Euthanasia
- John Stuart Mill argued that the individual should have autonomy over matters of their own body. Many believe humans should be allowed to die with dignity at the time of their choosing.
- We end the suffering of animals, so why deny humans the same mercy?
- Pence argues that it is not wrong to help the dying to die as they were going to die anyway.
- Many doctors already utilize the ‘Doctrine of Double Effect’ which allows them to indirectly end the life of a patient (usually by withdrawing treatment or giving a drug overdose) instead of letting them suffer.
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Arguments against Voluntary Euthanasia
- Is the individual in a state of mind to really decide whether they should die or not?
- Hooker gives the example of a person who chooses death after being diagnosed with a fatal, incurable disease but a post-mortem reveals an incorrect diagnosis.
- The system has much potential for abuse – would eldery people wilfully be euthanised because they believe themselves to be a burden on their family? Would unscrupulous relatives convince someone to in order to get at an inheritance?
- There is the traditional slippery slope argument that states euthanasia could lead to more undesirable consequences down the line, although such an effect has not yet been observed in a country such as Norway where assisted suicide is legal.
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- The 1961 Suicide act legalized suicide, but not if it’s assisted. If someone is in a position in which they can take their own life, debate rages whether their doctors, their relatives or God should take the responsibility.
- But there are alternatives to death if this is the case – for example, the Hospice Movement is a primarily Christian organization that aims to ease the suffering of terminally ill individuals without ending their lives.
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