Active Euthanasia With Parental Consent Case Study

Excerpt from Case Study :

e. The exceptions made for impairment and age would open a Pandora's Box of legal precedence. The Death with Dignity Act and any other forthcoming active euthanasia laws will likely continue to follow the same line of reasoning, i.e. that it is the unimpaired individual who must shoulder the full responsibility of the decisions he or she is making regarding the end of his or her life. That is in fact the point of the law, that a physician's responsibility as well as the responsibility of anyone who is active in the act of euthanasia is relinquished entirely to the will of the dying individual. In the case of a child this decision cannot be made by a proxy, nor can this decision be made for an individual who is mentally impaired, by his or her guardians or care takers. Though the parents in this case have fundamentally compelling arguments regarding the suffering of their child the broader concerns of the case must be considered. Overstepping the boundaries of the law, even in states where active euthanasia is legal, which is what many would call creating precedence for involuntary euthanasia. (Gilmore, 2005, p. 27) Andrea according to her parents has not been fully informed regarding death and dying and this is just one of the issues at hand. The most compelling issue at hand is that ethically it would be unreasonable to allow a proxy, parent or otherwise the right to end a child's life at any juncture of disease or wellness. According to Kamisar and others the potential for abuse when precedence is set for allowing a proxy to make a
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final decision on the right to die is exponential. (Kamisar, 1998) Would this then allow siblings to advocate for active euthanasia when parents become to aged to care for a disabled adult child? Would this then allow a parent to stop or deny medical treatment for a disabled child as soon as they got the first bill for care, arguing that the cost of care would ultimately challenge the child's quality of life. The possibilities are endless and will likely continue to be debated for some time, yet the right to life laws that have thusly been enacted in both Oregon and California make it very clear that proxy decisions are not a legal aspect of these laws and should never be.

Modern medicine can perpetuate issues of moral and ethical concern surrounding euthanasia when it takes heroic measures to save a life that is, by some standards not worth living. In other words if someone is so ill that they will never recover, in a prolonged coma or state of serious physical and mental disability or will be after intervention, some people think medicine has gone to far to save their lives. Yet, this case has no bearing on that ethical decision, as the legal and ethical clarity is foundational and regardless of the heart wrenching nature of the condition of the child, active euthanasia, in this case or others like it is and will likely remain illegal and unethical.

References

Gilmore, J. (2005, April 4). Court-Ordered Euthanasia: Euthanasia Advocates Claim It Is Not a Crime to Kill as Long as the Victims Cannot Speak for Themselves. The New American, 21, 27.

Kamisar, Y. (1998). Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Problems Presented by the Compelling, Heartwrenching Case. Journal of…

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References

Gilmore, J. (2005, April 4). Court-Ordered Euthanasia: Euthanasia Advocates Claim It Is Not a Crime to Kill as Long as the Victims Cannot Speak for Themselves. The New American, 21, 27.

Kamisar, Y. (1998). Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Problems Presented by the Compelling, Heartwrenching Case. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 88(3), 1121-1146.

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