The purpose of this paper is to consider and critically analyse the arguments, both legal and moral, in regard to legalising euthanasia, engaging with the ethical theory of deontology. This paper will provide an outline of the definition of euthanasia and associated terms, such as passive and active, involuntary and voluntary, as well as define and demonstrate deontological theory with regard to the topic. It will be demonstrated that the consequences of proposed euthanasia laws, though they have not come to pass, have certainly caused the debate of ethical and legal issues and thus, it is proposed that euthanasia should not yet be legalised. This argument will be supported with examples from Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, as well as incorporate statistics found in a study of end-of-life decisions in six European countries published in 2003. This supporting evidence will assist in demonstrating that if the practice becomes legal without control measures and adequate safeguards in place, it will become easy for accidental deaths to occur, thus making euthanasia a legally and morally wrong option.
Ethical Concepts and Legal Definitions
Prior to outlining the right or wrong of legalising euthanasia, it is imperative to firstly discuss the concepts and definitions. Euthanasia is largely defined as the deliberate omission of treatment with the intention of hastening or ending a life, in order to relieve unmanageable pain and suffering (Sanders and Chaloner 2007, 42). There are subdivisions to this definition; passive and active. Active euthanasia is the deliberate intervention to end a person’s life through means such as a lethal drug, whereas passive is the notion that it is permissible to withhol...
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...2014. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2011-100268
Garrard, E, and S Wilkinson. 2005. “Passive euthanasia.” Journal of Medical Ethics 31 (2): 64-68. Accessed April 18, 2014. doi: 10.1136/jme.2003.005777
Harris, NM. 2001. “The Euthanasia Debate.” Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps 147 (3): 367-370. Accessed April 18, 2014. Doi: 10.1136/jramc-147-03-22
Quadrelli, Carol. 2014. “JSB175 Social Ethics and the Justice System: Week 3 lecture notes.” Accessed April 19, 2014. http://blackboard.qut.edu.au/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_4_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fcontent%2FlistContent.jsp%3Fcourse_id%3D_111276_1%26content_id%3D_5139484_1
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