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Euthanasia
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Euthanasia

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  • 1. Euthanasia Main types
  • 2. What is Euthanasia
    • Greek ‘eu’ meaning ‘easy’ and ‘thanatos’ meaning ‘death.’ = easy death
    • Intentional premature ending of another person’s life
    • Either:
    • Patient consents to it = voluntary
    • Patient does not request e.g. in a coma = non voluntary
  • 3. Passive/ Active euthanasia
    • By direct means – active euthanasia e.g. lethal injection
    • Withholding medical treatment
    • – passive euthanasia e.g. withholding
    • medicine, life support
    • James Rachels saw no distinction between active euthanasia and passive euthanasia.
    • He believed passive euthanasia was worse as it is cruel and the process of dying may be long and drawn out.
  • 4. Personhood
    • Personhood: what separates a human being from a person?
    • If someone is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) are they still a person?
    • Some argue that someone in a PVS is still human but not entirely a person so euthanasia is a logical conclusion.
    • The problem is where is the line drawn?
    • If we distinguish between human and person and permit euthanasia on this basis: if you are an incomplete person (cant talk, walk, blink …) does this mean euthanasia is acceptable?
  • 5. Against Euthanasia
    • Germain Grisez and Joseph Boyle stress the importance of personhood
    • Reject view that one can cease to be a person and yet be bodily alive
    • A person in PVS has not lost what makes them a person – humanity and personhood are one and bodily life is good within itself.
    • Euthanasia is against the basic good of life.
  • 6. For Euthanasia
    • However Daniel Maguire :
    • Important to respect and value life but should not be obliged to prolong it in every situation.
    • Reject that God alone has the power over life and death
    • If God alone decides time of death does this mean we are no more than God's property?
    • We intervene to save life and preserve it there is no real difference between ending life and preserving it
  • 7. Peter Singer – quality of life
    • Sanctity of life ethic needs to collapse and a new ethic develop
    • People now believe that a person with a low quality of life can judge for themselves to want to end their own life.
  • 8. Right to life
    • A person's right to life corresponds to the duty of others not to kill that person.
    • Idea of duty not to kill seems to rule out euthanasia.
    • But this duty is not absolute: killing in wars, self defence, capital punishment
    • So in this sense voluntary euthanasia, where the person chooses to die, seems easier to justify than in comparison with someone who does not consent.
  • 9. Killing or letting die?
    • Many doctors would argue that euthanasia goes on already.
    • Doctors give painkillers in such dose that it hastens death
    • Or withdraw or withhold treatment to bring on death
    • However there is a difference between killing (taking life) and letting die (not saving life.)
    • We all have a right not to be killed but no right to have one’s life saved.
  • 10. Slippery Slope?
    • Many fear that if euthanasia was made legal then the ‘slippery slope’ would happen
    • Value of human life will decrease based on economics (Saving NHS/family money) and personal convenience.
    • However Helga Kuhse challenges the ‘slippery slope’ argument
    • Situation in the Netherlands is not following the example of Nazi Germany in making some lives valueless for reason other than mercy or respect.
  • 11. Utilitarianism
    • Bentham (Act):- more pain to person and family to keep alive than happiness felt euthanasia = acceptable.
    • More happiness created if resources e.g. hospitals beds and money used to help others.
    • Assesses individual acts and applies hedonic calculus to all situations
    • Mill (Rule): - looks at both physical and more importantly psychological pain.
    • Links to Golden Rule: -Treat others…..
    • X No protection of individual over majority: if whole family wanted it over individual?
  • 12. Utilitarianism
    • Singer: Euthanasia is based on preferences of individuals so if the individual wanted euthanasia ‘preference utilitarianism’ would support this.
    • Wants to reduce pain rather than maximise happiness This view would support euthanasia.
    • R.M. Hare: put yourself in others shoes – if you were in that situation what would you want?
  • 13. Kant
    • Duty of a doctor to preserve life : Hippocratic oath
    • “ I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel” ... The Hippocratic Oath
    • Categorical Imperative: First formulation – universilisability what happens if everyone that wanted euthanasia was allowed it universally?
    • Kant gives example of Suicide to explain universilisability
    • Euthanasia used as a means to getting inheritance/ save medical bills/ NHS money
  • 14. Natural Law
    • Does not consider individual cases or individual involved
    • Looks at euthanasia itself
    • Protection of life is a primary precept = euthanasia goes against this
    • Does allow for patient to refuse treatment if in extraordinary means.
    • Goes against final purpose of humans
    • Doctrine of Double effect can be applied
    • Is it unnatural to prolong life using life support machines?
    • Can doctors/ medicine/ hospital be viewed as unnatural as well?
  • 15. Christian
    • Situation Ethics: Joseph Fletcher – agape – what is the most loving thing to do?
    • Golden Rule: treat others as you want to be treated yourself
    • Absolute views– Old Testament – Decalogue “Do not murder.”
    • Relative views: Jesus' teachings of forgiveness, love, mercy “Mercy killing?”
    • Life gift from God
    • Sanctity of Life
    • Hospices available to help ease suffering
    • "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away" - Job 1:21
    • “ You yourselves are God's temple” - 1 Corinthians 3:16
    • Pope said that to cause death in this way was “a grave violation of the law of God.”
  • 16. If large doses of painkillers are used to help ease a person's suffering, resulting in a person dying, this is understood as double effect and is permitted. In the same way the Roman Catholic Church does not believe that doctors should use any extraordinary treatment to keep people alive. Doctrine of Double Effect: Used in application with Natural Law and Christian Ethics
  • 17. Diane Pretty British woman denied the right to die. Suffered Motor Neurone Disease Argues that she should be allowed to die with dignity. “ The law has taken all my rights away.” We all have the right to life – odes this also mean we have human right to death?