Essay Arguing Euthanasia

The term “voluntary active euthanasia” suggests that there also is a passive form of euthanasia.It is passive in the sense that nothing is “actively” done to kill the patient, but that nothing is done to deter the process of dying either, and that the termination of life-support which is clearly futile, is permitted.

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It is, so the argument goes, not inhumane or irreverent to assist such patients – particularly if they clearly and repeatedly so request – to bring their lives to an end.

I am personally much more in favour of the pro-PAS and pro-VAE positions, although the arguments against do raise issues that need to be addressed.

Compare that with the situation of a 40-year-old man, a husband and father of three young children, who has embezzled company funds and now has to face the music in court. But, I would argue, it would not be morally right for him to do so, given the dire consequences for his family.

To have a right, does not imply that it is always right to execute that right.

But we do have the right to decide how long we remain in existence.

The fact that we have the right to suicide, does not mean that it is always (morally) right to execute that right.Desmond Tutu, emeritus archbishop of Cape Town, raised it again on his 85th birthday in an article in the Washington Post.He wrote: I have prepared for my death and have made it clear that I do not wish to be kept alive at all costs.Here a suffering and terminal patient is assisted by a physician to gain access to a lethal substance which the patient himself or herself takes or administers.If incapable of doing so, the physician – on request of the patient – administers the lethal substance which terminates the patient’s life.Euthanasia represents one of the oldest issues in medical ethics.It is forbidden in the original Hippocratic Oath, and has consistently been opposed by most religious traditions since antiquity – other than, incidentally, abortion, which has only been formally banned by the Catholic Church since the middle of the 19th century. I will limit myself in this article to the issue of assisted death, which seems to me to be one of the most pressing issues of our time.Anton van Niekerk is director of the Centre for Applied Ethics and Head of the Unit for Bioethics in that Centre.The Unit receives an annual contribution from Mediclinic, but that is not for the exclusive use of Anton van Niekerk.It is hard to deny the right of an 85-year-old with terminal cancer of the pancreas and almost no family and friends left, to commit suicide or ask for assisted death.In this case, he or she both has the right, and will be in the right if exercising that right.


Comments Essay Arguing Euthanasia

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