One of the greatest dangers facing chronic and terminally ill patients is the grey area regarding PAS. In the Netherlands, there are strict criteria for the practice of PAS. Despite such stringencies, the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (1992) found 28% of the PAS cases in the Netherlands did not meet the criteria. The evidence suggests some of the patient’s lives may have ended prematurely or involuntarily. This problem can be addressed via advance directives. These directives would be written by competent individuals explaining their decision to be aided in dying when they are no longer capable of making medical decisions. These interpretations are largely defined by ones morals, understanding of ethics, individual attitudes, religious and cultural values.
The practice of using continuous sedation (CS) to reduce or take away the consciousness of a patient until their death follows is a similar grey area in healthcare. This was addressed in Washington v. Glucksberg when Justice O’Connor’s statements proclaimed that CS was legal and ethically acceptable. The case also suggested the availability of CS renders the legalization of PAS as unnecessary (Raus, Sterckx & Mortier, 2011). This argument leaves a great deal of life ending treatments up to individual interpretation. PAS is illegal in some states in the United States but passive euthanasia or the right to refuse medical treatment, including life-sustaining medical treatment, is well-established in the US by common law and landmark court decisions.
Even when regulations are present, they are not always followed. The Oregon Department of Human Services’ Death with Dignity Act (2007) requires a patient be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist for treatment ...
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Varelius, J. (2013). Voluntary Euthanasia, Physician-Assisted Suicide, and the Right to Do Wrong. HEC Forum, 25(3), 229-243. doi:10.1007/s10730-013-9208-2
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