According to James Rachels, “both passive and active euthanasia are permissible.” (Luper and Brown, p.347). He gives a doctrine from American Medical Association quoting,” mercy killing is contrary to which the medical professional stands” (Luper and Brown, p. 347). He makes arguments against the doctrine as to why it would be rejected. One, a physician should let the patient end his life if he wants to so that the patient does not have to endure the suffering. However, Rachels says in that situation it’s better for the physician to kill the patient, rather than letting one die because using lethal injections can be painless and quick, whereas, letting one die can be a slow and painful process (Luper and Brown, p. 348).
This raises the question: what does this choice imply for Patient B? Should he be allowed to choose active euthanasia to combat his suffering? I will argue that there is no moral distinction between letting Patient A die and “killing” Patient B. I will do so by looking at each patient’s circumstances individually, then applying arguments about euthanasia to their cases, and ultimately bringing them back together to consider a verdict. While some may argue that there is a difference between killing Patient B and letting Patient A die, I assert that any such claims are based in irrelevant reasoning. First, let’s consider the reasoning behind the patients choosing to forego extraordinary treatment for their cancer.
Applied Ethics Explain and comment on James Rachels’ view that there is no moral difference between active and passive euthanasia. Do you agree with Rachels’ view? Chung Hoi Yi, Mandy 10584907 24/4/2014 Introduction Euthanasia (means ‘good death’) refers to “any action where a person is intentionally killed or allowed to die because it is believed that the individual would be better off dead than alive---- or else, as when one is in an irreversible coma, at least no worse off.”(M.Tooley) Passive and Active euthanasia Euthanasia as its name means is "serenity (or happy) to die". In euthanasia can be divided into both active and passive. The former (active euthanasia) is the avoidance of pain by taking life, while the latter (passive euthanasia) is to avoid the pain of the law, but allowed death occurred.
Callahan first goes on to state that euthanasia is different from suicide in that it involves not only the right of a person to self-determination, but the transfer of the right to kill to the acting agent (presumably a physician) as well. This right, however, is temporary and restricted to killing the patient only. It is not clear why this temporary transfer makes euthanasia wrong, for if this is wrong, then letting a patient die (in the case where the patient already has the assistance of life-supporting equipment) is also wrong, if there is no distinction between killing and letting die. So, we must return to this argument after addressing Callahan's claims of a distinction between killing and allowing to die. The argument for the distinction is based on the cause of death.
Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) and euthanasia raise ethical questions about the medicalisation of death (J Hardwig, 2006; Kavanaugh, 2000) and whether it is worse to kill a patient, or to let them die through omission of treatment (Kavanaugh, 2000). All have the same outcome – the death of the patient – the ethical dilemma arise when considering how the patient’s death occurred (Rachels, 1975). Allowing a patient to die from the cessation of bodily function can be a distressing process and can extend the suffering of that patient (Brock, 1992) However, ending a patient’s life prematurely appears to contradict the medical profession’s objective, namely the Hippocratic Oath, and has further reaching consequence in the community. The increasing ability to prolong life has created an effect termed ‘the medicalisation of death’ (J Hardwig, 2006; Stringer, 2007). In ‘The Hour of Our Death’, Aries (Aries, 1981) discusses the changing conceptions of death as more often a patient is perceived as being surrounded by tubes and machines instead of in more comfortable surroundings when they die.
Rachels argues that in such cases we find compelling moral grounds for preferring active euthanasia to passive euthanasia in the vastly greater degree of suffering involved in letting the baby die. The AMA policy, strictly interpreted, seems to allow newborn Down Syndrome babies to die from intestinal blockages, though this is not the reason that parents think it best to let the babies die. Sullivan would deem that if the baby is suffering and their quality of life would not be adequate then the baby should be permitted to die. In the case of the Downs Syndrome Baby it would be permissible to withhold extraordinary care, according to Sullivan. The doctor, in removing extraordinary care, does not intend to kill the patient, but to spare the baby any suffering that may be endured through extraordinary
Euthanasia as Mercy or Murder "In keeping with the root definition of 'euthanasia'- literally [meaning] 'good death'- [supporters] of euthanasia insist they are talking about helping terminally ill patients in insufferable pain die a dignified death- at the patient's request. But this bears no resemblance to the true picture of the actual practice of euthanasia in the United States" (Lyons np). Passive euthanasia is death by nonintervention, meaning a health care worker can discontinue providing life-sustaining treatment to the patient, thus allowing him to die more quickly. "In all actuality, [passive] euthanasia often involves withholding food and water from a patient whose death is caused by starvation or dehydration rather than the patient's underlying disease" (Lyons np). In active euthanasia, a physician or family member takes the life of a patient by means of lethal injection, before he or she dies of a terminal illness or injury.
Euthanasia is morally incorrect; it can be compared to the murder of another human. Legalizing Euthanasia devalues human life. When someone pulls the plug on another person's life, it is equivalent to committing murder because that person is no longer living due to someone else's actions. According to Dr.Clarence H. Braddock III, a faculty member of the University of Washington's departments of medicine and medical history and ethics, "taking a life under any circumstances is immoral". Euthanasia is a rejection of the importance and value of human life.
In “Active and Passive Euthanasia”, author Rachels challenges the notion that there exists a moral difference between a doctor who deliberately terminates the life of a terminally ill patient or euthanizes him versus one who achieves the same result by simply withholding treatment. The first case is referred to as the “active” case while the second is referred to as the “passive” case. Such a notion, argues Rachels, is artificial i.e. choosing one case over the other is not better or worse in terms of morality. According to Rachels, the major deciding factor in determining the morality of a route of euthanasia is the physician’s intention.
Although the general public does not recognize passive euthanasia as doctor assisted suicide it is still a form of euthanasia that is technically legal. Passive euthanasia is when the underlying cause of death is the disease. When terminally ill people refuse to be kept alive by machines or medication, which is within their legal rights, they’re aiding in the advancement of their own death, which is a form of passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia is when the cause of death is inflicted by the physician in an already dying patient. Active euthanasia places the blame upon the physician because they are the primary cause of death, this is why active euthanasia is illegal and seen as much worse than passive.