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Ethics
Health
Philosophy
Ethical aspects of euthanasia (Greek for "good death"), a physician-assisted suicide of a patient with a goal of ending the suffering from a terminal or incurable illness, were debated since the times of Hippocrates. Since then, although modern medicine made a great deal of progress, euthanasia and its validity as a medical practice still leads to controversies. Should a patient in great suffering be able to end his life with the help of a doctor?

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Arguments supporting this position

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Context

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The Argument

Legal euthanasia is bound to be abused in many different ways. Patients could be pressured by their families to make the decision because of a financial cost of a patient’s illness or because of financial incentive like an inheritance. The state could also use euthanasia as a political tool to get rid of society’s “undesirables” under the guise of medical help, the main example being policies of Nazi Germany. Finally, as the case of Jack Kevorkian shows, legal euthanasia could give physicians too much power to decide about the life and death of their patients and it is impossible to guarantee that only patients eligible for the practice would be subjected to it.

Counter arguments

The potential for abuse is overstated by opponents of legal euthanasia; there are safeguards in place to prevent such events from happening, like the mental evaluation of a patient. The reality of legal euthanasia in places like the Netherlands, Belgium or state of Oregon shows, that the fears of abuse are unfounded.

Premises

Legal euthanasia means a death of a person. There might exist entities or people for whom a death of a certain patient would be seen as desirable (family of a patient, a state hostile to a patient based on political or ideological grounds etc). Therefore such entities or people will use a legal euthanasia as a cover to reach their goal, that is - a patient's death.

Rejecting the premises

Possible abuse of legal euthanasia does not imply that the practice is ethically unjustified.

References

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This page was last edited on Saturday, 15 Sep 2018 at 16:38 UTC