Euthanasia • Passive Euthanasia: refusing to continue medical treatment, leading to death • Voluntary Active Euthanasia: Killing someone with their consent for the sake of relieving suffering. • Non-voluntary Active Euthanasia: killing a person not competent to give consent in order to relieve suffering • Involuntary Active Euthanasia: killing someone for the sake of relieving suffering without consent when they are capable of giving consent.
Reasons to support Vol. Active Euthanasia • Voluntary euthanasia grants a person greater self-determination over their life (and death) A large part of human dignity lies in the ability people have to control their own lives. 2 Sometimes a person may legitimately judge that they are better off dead. Euthanasia allows these people an escape from horrendous suffering.
Euthanasia is the deliberate killing of an innocent person and therefore wrong. • Brock: All deliberate killing of an innocent is not wrong. Passive voluntary euthanasia is allowed to be permissible, and that is killing, too • But is passive euthanasia killing
Is there a moral difference between killing and letting die? • Brock: both are killing. A greedy son who takes life support away from his mother is just as guilty of murder as one who “actively” kills. • Is this true? • Maybe in this case the culpability is the same. But there might still be a difference.
Callahan: ending treatment cannot be killing because the case of death is not the end of treatment, but the underlying disease
Good consequences of euthanasia • It would be possible to respect the self-determination of competent patients who want it. • It would reassure the large number of people who want to have the option of euthanasia • Some pain and suffering can only be relieved by euthanasia (psychological as well as physical pain).
Potential bad consequences • Undermine moral center of medicine, “first, do no harm” • Weaken society’s commitment to provide care for dying patients (its easier to kill them) Some patients may feel pressured to accept death because of a felt burden There may be a slip into non-voluntary euthanasia
Brock: voluntary euthanasia would likely increase patients faith in medicine, not decrease it. • Availability of pass euthanasia has not resulted in a loss of the quality of care for dying patients. Also the avail of passive euthanasia has not lead to large percentages of people taking this option
The slip to non-voluntary euthanasia can be made less likely by the guidelines on page 87 • But its true the reasons for voluntary euthanasia may also apply to non-voluntary euthanasia (a surrogate making the decision for an incompetent patient. • Brock thinks non-voluntary euth. May be justified in some cases.