Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide and the Professional Obligations of Physicians

Emergent Australasian Philosophers 3:1-15 (2010)
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Euthanasia and assisted suicide have proved to be very contentious topics in medical ethics. Some ethicists are particularly concerned that allowing physicians to carry out these procedures will undermine their professional obligations and threaten the very goals of medicine. However, I maintain that the fundamental goals of medicine not only do not preclude the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide by physicians, but can in fact be seen to support these practices in some instances. I look at two influential views of the goals of medicine, one based on the broad guiding principles of autonomy, beneficence and nonmaleficence, and the other focusing on several more concrete aims, concluding that both approaches can be seen to support euthanasia and assisted suicide. I then turn to the popular concern that allowing physicians to carry out euthanasia and assisted suicide will lead to widespread abuse. I argue that the possibility for abuse can be minimised if we make the patient's autonomous consent an essential requirement of the practice.



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Lucie White
Utrecht University

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References found in this work

Principles of biomedical ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by James F. Childress.
Rethinking informed consent in bioethics.Neil C. Manson - 2007 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Onora O'Neill.
Voluntary active euthanasia.Dan W. Brock - 1992 - Hastings Center Report 22 (2):10-22.
Is There a Right to Die?Leon R. Kass - 1993 - Hastings Center Report 23 (1):34-43.
Dutch Euthanasia: Background, Practice, and Present Justifications.G. K. Kimsma & E. Van Leeuwen - 1993 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 2 (1):19.

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