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).
The Doctrine can be considered a simple prohibition of murder, ensuring that doctors do not without ordinary care, because doing so would be considered killing. Rachels example seen convincing because they deal with withholding ordinary care but he fails to distinguish ordinary from extraordinary, then attacks the lack of ordinary care. This can be found in the Downs Syndrome Baby example, where severe down’s syndrome babies born with intestinal obstructions. Sometimes in such cases the baby is permitted to 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.
I will argue that there is, in fact, no moral difference between killing someone and intentionally letting a person die. I plan to defend this thesis by offering supporting examples and details of cases of both active and passive euthanasia. Rachels’ first premise is, “passive euthanasia (i.e., withholding treatment) is permissible in part because it ends a patient’s suffering”. He then supports this premise by providing a quote from the American Medical Association. This quote essentially states that the intentional killing of one human being by another (in this case, active euthanasia) goes against the AMA and is therefore wrong.
I have reasons to believe that passive or negative euthanasia can be a humane way of end suffering, while active or positive euthanasia is not. According Richard Gula, active euthanasia is legally considered homicide (5). Another intervention and approach to euthanasia could be through the use of analgesic means. The use of morphine or other anesthetic medication could be used to allow the patient to die or hasten their dying process. I consider the latter procedure to be more humane than that of the other because it is morally wrong to kill a person, rather it's humane for someone to die naturally.
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.
Clearly, Mr. Smith is meant to represent the doctor who pursues the active case of euthanasia for his patient while Mr. Jones is meant to represent the passive. From a moral standpoint, this representation is meant to show that only the intention (in the doctors’ cases--euthanasia) matters. A doctor who pursues the active case fully intends to terminate the life of his patient just as much as the doctor who pursues the passive case. Therefore, the former should not be seen as more morally righteous or less morally righteous than the latter. With this simple analogy, Rachels has successfully established the artificial nature of the active/passive debate on
On the other end, such assistance, or methods, are considered as a form of murder. As a “mercy killing”, people often inaccurately voice that human euthanasia is in a patient's best interests, disregarding the threats of: the slippery slope effect, no regulatory system, and sanctity of life infringement. A frequent argument against the legalization of human euthanasia is that it will begin a slippery slope towards involuntary (euthanizing of a patient without his or her consent) and non-voluntary (euthanizing of a patient not capable of giving consent) euthanasia . Society is only looking to legalize voluntary euthanasia, but the doors will open to non-voluntary and involuntary euthanasia, two methods of death that could easily be written off as murder. The slippery slope argument claims that if an action, such as euthanasia, were to be permitted, then society will be led down the slippery slope, or be permitting other actions that are morally wrong, “in general form, it means that if we allow something relatively harmless today, we may start a trend that results in something currently unthinkable becoming accepted” (“Anti-euthanasia”).
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.
While other disciplines question the validity of the actions of the person helping with the actual euthanasia. Still others support euthanasia in all forms as long as it is performed for the sake of the sufferer. There are three types of euthanasia; voluntary active euthanasia, passive euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. In all cases where euthanasia is used the patient must be suffering from an incurable, fatal disease. Voluntary active euthanasia is a "deliberate intervention" by an individual other than the patient, with the pure intention of termination that patient's life.
The types of euthanasia are active, passive, voluntary, non-voluntary, involuntary, and indirect. Active Euthanasia is when a person directly and deliberately causes the patient’s death while passive euthanasia is when a person does not directly take the person’s life but allows death to happen. Voluntary euthanasia is when the patient requests to end his or her life while non voluntary euthanasia is when the person that will die does not make the decision but a appropriate person makes the decision on their behalf. Involuntary euthanasia is when a perso... ... middle of paper ... ...anasia and physician assisted suicide as morally wrong while proponents argue that it allows a person to die with dignity. My personal belief is that euthanasia and physician assisted suicide are almost always immoral.