Ethics: Euthanasia

A problem of definition
the case raises a basic problem of distinguishing between the right to suicide, assisted suicide, euthanasia, murder or manslaughter. problem for people making medical decisions and a problem of the way we view the value of life and role of society
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when a person dies as a direct result of their own voluntary action
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Assisted suicide
when a person dies as a direct result of their own voluntary action but with the help of another person. different from voluntary euthanasia as the person may have problems but none life threatening.
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Physician aided suicide
when a person dies as a direct result of their own voluntary action but with the help of a doctor or physician
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Physician aid in dying
when a persons death is hastened but not directly caused by the aid (e.g. medication) of a doctor or physician
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Voluntary euthanasia
when a persons death is directly caused by another person (perhaps a doctor) at their request with their consent. most arguments involve the person suffering from an incurable or terminal illness and is in great pain
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Passive euthanasia
when a doctor withdraws life sustaining treatment which indirectly causes death. or allows a patient to die by letting nature take its course
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Non-voluntary euthanasia
when a persons life is ended without thir consent but with the consent of someone representing their interests. eg doctors or courts argue that someone in a persistent vegetative state (PVG) should have their life support removed.
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Suicide Act
1961. suicide is a crime. assisted suicide is a crime, up to 14 years in prison.
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the view that human life is always sacred because it possesses a god-given soul
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Self-determination: Diane Pretty
(1958-2002) Diagnosed with motor neuron disease. her case was denied by european court of human rights as they said she wasnt suffering from a life threatening disease. IF she was doctors may have been able to assist in her death but not cause it
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the slippery slope problem
an argument that claims that if a rule is weakened, even for good reasons, then what eventually follows if the rule is again weakened for good reasons will be highly undesirable
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Physician aid in dying: the slippery slope problem
Assisted Dying for the terminally ill bill 2004. argued that actual unbearable suffering ccan be mistaken for fear of loss of dignity through terminal illness. also the fact that if quality of life determines euthanasia, those unable to choose may dY
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literally means 'the production of good offspring'but is used to justify producing racially and intellectually 'superior' humans through selective breeding and termination of 'inferior' beings
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Recent example of slippery slope
the active non-voluntary euthanasia practised by the Nazis during the holocaust as eugenics where millions died as 'improvement' of society
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Strong sanctity of life principle
the beliefe that human life is always valuable from the moment of conception until natural death. as a 'strong' argument, there are no exceptions. all innocent human life must be equally protected
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Ordinary and extraordinary means
makes a distinction between means which are obligatory (ordinary) and means which are additional (extraordinary) and therefore not necessarily obligatory
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Weak sanctity of life principle
the belief that although human life is always valuable, there may be situations where it would cause ore harm than good to continue with it.
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Quality of life principle- rejects sanctity
takes an instrumentalist view on human life: it states that human life has to possess certain attributes in order to have value. these attributes might include experience of happiness, having autonomy, being conscious.
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the view that something or someone is of value only if it is useful and achieves desired end or purpose.
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Singer and quality of life
Singer suggests that we need to leave sanctity of life and look at the non-Christian quality of life. he develops John Locke's notion that the value of life depends on a person's ability to have desires and preferences, not a soul for human priority
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Singer's 5 quality of life commandments
1. recognise that the worth of human life varies. 2. take responsibility for the consequences of your decision. 3. respect a person's desire to live or die. 4. Bring children into the world only if they are wanted. 5. do not discriminate species
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Voluntary Euthanasia case study: Dr David Moor
gave terminally ill, 85 year old George Liddell, a morphine injection on the morning of his death in 1977. He was investigated for murder but he argued that he is allowed to administer pain relieving drugs. he stated the dose was not meant to kill.
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Doctrine of double effect: Deontology
1. act in itself from the outset is good. 2. good effect is intended not evil. 3. good effect not produceed by means of evil effect. 4. there is proportionately good reason to premit the evil effect
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Dr Moors argument- deontologist
he used the double effect doctrine to defend himself. he argued that his primary intention was to relieve Liddell's suffering, but the foreseen but not intended secondary effect was tto hasten his death. deontologists do not support euthanasia
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Non-voluntary euthanasia
Tony Bland (1970-1993) injured at Hillsborough disaster in 1989. he was in a PVS, a deep coma, and on life support. after a lengthy legal battle his parents were allowed to authorise his life support being turned off
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Why give up if he is not dead
Bland's parents argued that their son was no longer present in his body. it was just a shell, although still physically living, his personality and mental state was dead.
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The dead donor rule
when there is no brain activity or body function. this is used by some to define death to be both lack of brain and body function. this rules out euthanasia.
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Natural Law and euthanasia
they are not compatible. suicide goes against society sd it undermines the purpose of mainaining the laws. also goes against duty to god, as does not protect innocent life. so euthanasia/suicide and physician aid in dying are wrong in all forms
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when a person dies as a direct result of their own voluntary action

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Assisted suicide


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Physician aided suicide


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Physician aid in dying


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