Ethics Argument Against Euthanasia Refers Term Paper


Possibly the only exception to the immorality of suicide arises as a function of the philosophical impossibility of violating the fundamental right of the individual - both at law and in moral principle - of refusing medical treatment. Adults who are mentally competent to make decisions for themselves cannot be compelled to accept medical treatment unless their illness presents a health risk to others, such as in the case of infectious tuberculosis (Miller 1984). In that case, it is not suicide specifically that is the issue, since it would be conceptually impossible to allow the (competent) refusal of defining medical procedures deemed "necessary for continued life" first, and second, to require an individual to seek unwanted medical care for some conditions but not others.

However, even if the mentally competent individual may refuse life-saving medical care himself, allowing the same decision made for an incapacitated person by another by proxy allows room for unintentional error, misunderstanding or miscommunication, as well as for subterfuge for personal gain on the part of the proxy. It is one thing to allow a person to refuse life-saving medical treatment himself; allowing his (supposed) prior wishes to be expressed by another on his behalf is a different matter altogether.


Euthanasia, whether it is voluntary or involuntary or genuinely intended as mercy...


Whereas voluntary euthanasia may be benevolently motivated, the potential for abuse and mistake requires that society err on the safe side to ensure against both. In medical settings, patients and their families are too susceptible to suggestion and too deferential to physicians to allow both doctor-assisted and passive euthanasia, because physicians may impose their own fundamental beliefs on their patients. Even where individual rights allow individuals to refuse life-saving treatment, permitting others to express those rights by proxy is simply a passive form of euthanasia, and therefore, must be prohibited along with all of its other possible incarnations.

Sources Used in Documents:


Abrams, N., Bruckner, M.D. (1985) Medical Ethics: A Clinical Textbook and Reference for the Health Care Professional. Massachusetts: MIT.

Breitman, R. (1998) Official Secrets: What the Nazis Planned, What the British and Americans Knew. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Dershowitz, a.M. (2002) Shouting Fire: Civil Liberties in a Turbulent Age. New York: Little Brown & Co.

Garner, B.A. (2001) Black's Law Dictionary. St. Paul: West Group.

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