As has been noted, passive euthanasia is already a generally accepted medical practice and is permissible by Canadian law. A question to ask about passive euthanasia is, “Should we put time and effort in trying to prolong life of someone whose injuries or illnesses are so severe that they will be dead despite doctor’s best efforts?”. A doctor does not continue chemotherapy on a patient dying in the last stages of cancer. There have to be practical considerations of limited resources (i.e. doctors, nurses, medical supplies, etc.). A sad, but true reality is that there will always be people who die because of extensive injuries and terminal illnesses. Passive euthanasia prevents wasting resources, and allows them to be used where they will be more of use. Also, passive euthanasia can be used as a means of reducing the suffering of the terminally ill patient because it expresses respect for an individual’s autonomy. It can express autonomy because the patient can sign a do not resuscitate (DNR) or an end of life directive for their wishes to be carried out. For example, someone could have an end of life directive that states that they do not want any extensive measures to prolong their life.
Those who support active euthanasia usually face a more difficult opposition. Most believe the notion that killing someone is morally worse than letting someone die. We feel stronger disgust towards a murder than someone who does nothing to prevent the murder, even if the person could have potentially prevented the murde...
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...en argued that withholding or withdrawing treatment from a terminally ill patient can be justified, while actively killing a terminally ill patient cannot be justified. There is a distinction between the two that killing is morally worse than letting die. Or in other words active euthanasia is morally worse than passive euthanasia. This is clear through the examples outlined above. A doctor or patient’s decision to refrain from treatment is not morally equivalent to administering or requesting a lethal injection. Although the end result is the same, it is never morally permissible to intently kill someone. However, voluntary active euthanasia will soon be legal in Canada so it is important to have legal safeguards in order to protect the vulnerable. In permitting active euthanasia it could invite unwelcome consequences and a slippery slope for who can be euthanized.
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