Presidential Address: Is the Sanctity of Life Ethic Terminally Ill?

Bioethics 9 (3):327-343 (1995)
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Our growing technical capacity to keep human beings alive has brought the sanctity of life ethic to the point of collapse. The shift to a concept of brain death was already an implicit abandonment of the traditional ethic, though this has only recently become apparent. The 1993 decision of the British House of Lords in the case of Anthony Bland is an even more decisive shift towards an ethic that does not ask or seek to preserve human life as such, but only a life that is worth living. Once this shift has been completed and assimilated, we will no longer need the concept of brain death. Instead we can face directly the real ethical issue: when may doctors intentionally end the life of a patient?



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