Essay on Active and Passive Euthanasia

Essay on Active and Passive Euthanasia

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In 1973 the American Medical Association adopted a statement forbidding ‘mercy killing’ but allowing the cessation of treatment when requested by an incurable patient. In his essay “Active and Passive Euthanasia” James Rachels argues that active euthanasia should be avoided only to satisfy the law, not because of any perceived moral difference between active and passive. Rachels’ essay gives a convincing, logical argument to allow active euthanasia in certain cases.
Rachels questions the doctrine that the AMA sets forth regarding intentional termination versus not using extraordinary means. He points out that in some cases withholding treatment can cause more pain and longer suffering. His argument may be questionable because he neglects to discuss the option of increased pain medication to alleviate suffering.
In the case of a Downs syndrome infant born with other defects such as intestinal obstruction the choice is sometimes made to let the baby die. However, when the Downs syndrome infant is otherwise healthy you are not allowed to kill it. Basically the decision is be...

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