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Essay about Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

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Current law perpetuates inconsistency between cases where a patient requests passive assistance by withdrawing or refusing treatment and those where active assistance is requested. This inconsistency sees competent patients refused assistance yet allows claimants whose competence is questionable to refuse treatment altogether. The courts have advocated for such a difference on the basis of the distinction between act and omission. To do so is to fail to recognise that both active and passive euthanasia are equivalent and as such should both be allowed where a competent patient requests it. This is the position adopted in the Netherlands which recognises that advances in medical technology whilst leading to a longer life has not necessarily transpired to an equivalent in terms of quality of life. The Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide Act regulates both euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. Closer examination of the Act and how it works in practice will alleviate fears of the ‘slippery slope’ argument. Keown postulates that acceptance of one form of euthanasia will lead to other forms of euthanasia being accepted. This may hold some weight as the power of the slippery slope argument derives from history and experience. Historically, there has been a strong link between genocide and euthanasia. During Nazi Germany the disabled and imprisoned were euthanized. There is a growing concern that in allowing for euthanasia and physician assisted suicide a similar approach will be taken against the elderly, disabled or incompetent. These fears can be alleviated when examining the paper published in the Netherlands in 2009 of their experience so far, it failed showed any evidence of a slippery slope or an increase ...


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Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide Act 2002
Penny Lewis, ‘The Empirical Slippery Slope from Voluntary to Non-Voluntary Euthanasia’ [2007] Childhood Obesity 197, 199
John Keown, Euthanasia Ethics and Public Policy: An Argument Against Legalisation (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press 2002)
Raymond J Devrette, Practical Decision Making in Health Care Ethics: Cases and Concepts(3rd edn, Washington, Georgetown University Press 2010) 345
J A Rietjens et al, ‘Two Decades of Research on Euthanasia from the Netherlands: What have we learnt and what questions remain? (2009) 6 Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 271, 279
Jonathon Glover, Causing Death and Saving Lives (Harmondsworth, Penguin Books Ltd 1987), 184
Sheila McClean, Assisted Dying: Reflections on the Need for Law Reform (Abingdon, Routledge Cavendish 2007) 31



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