Me and My Body: The Relevance of the Distinction for the Difference between Withdrawing Life Support and Euthanasia

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 39 (4):671-677 (2011)
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Abstract

In a paper that has recently attracted discussion, David Shaw has attempted to criticize the distinction the law has drawn between withdrawing and withholding life-sustaining measures on the one hand, and euthanasia on the other, by claiming that the body of a terminally ill patient should be seen as akin to life support. Shaw compares two cases that we might, at least at first, regard as distinct, and argues that they are not. In the first case, Adam, who is dying of lung cancer, is connected to a ventilator and requests to be disconnected. In the second case, Brian, also dying of cancer, is not connected to anything, and so he requests his doctor to provide him with a lethal injection. In the first case, Shaw contends, Adam is being kept alive by a ventilator. In the second case, Brian is being kept alive by his body.

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The Wendland case, withdrawing life support from incompetent patients who are not terminally ill.Bernard Lo [ - 2006 - In Arthur L. Caplan, James J. McCartney & Dominic A. Sisti (eds.), The case of Terri Schiavo: ethics at the end of life. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books.

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