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THEO 303 (Su '15) T13 - PAS and Euthanasia

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Hartmut Scherer

on 8 June 2015

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Transcript of THEO 303 (Su '15) T13 - PAS and Euthanasia

Sources and Image Credit
Adapted resources for this presentation from Feinberg and Feinberg,
Ethics for a Brave New World
, 253ff and Leon R. Kass, “Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Human Improvement”; accessed June 1, 2015; https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcbe/background/kasspaper.html.
PAS and Euthanasia
"The Death of Fanny Grimes"
Considerations in decision-making
- proper understanding of death
Is mercy killing ever morally permissible or justifiable?
If euthanasia is morally justifiable, are there cases where it would be morally obligatory to remove a patient’s suffering?
Is requesting a lethal dose of a drug equivalent to asking for help in committing suicide?
If voluntary euthanasia is suicide, is suicide ever morally justifiable?
- 4,829 people chose PAS in 2013
- convince two physicians that you endure
“unbearable” suffering
- PAS offered instead of treatment (Oregon, 2008)
- suffering, the worst of all possible experiences?
- society should prevent suffering
"Dying Dutch: Euthanasia Spreads Across Europe" by Winston Ross / February 12, 2015; http://www.newsweek.com/2015/02/20/choosing-die-netherlands-euthanasia-debate-306223.html
Clarification of terminology
Voluntary - patient requests or permits the act
Active euthanasia refers to taking some purposeful action to end a life
Direct euthanasia - the individual himself carries out the decision to die
Death with Dignity,
Mercy Killing, and Death Selection
Death with dignity - allowing the patient to die a truly human death
“euthanasia” -
meaning “well” or “good,” and
meaning “death”
Passive euthanasia refers to the withholding or refusal of treatment to sustain life
- may also involve withdrawing
treatment already begun
Indirect refers - someone else carries out the decision
Mercy killing - releasing someone who is suffering extreme pain
Death selection - the deliberate removal
of persons whose lives are no longer
considered socially useful
In favor of euthanasia
- personhood
- quality of life ethic (vs. sanctity of life ethic)
- utilitarian concerns
- euthanasia and abortion (Joseph Fletcher)
- other concerns
Biblical and Theological Considerations
- sixth commandment not absolute
- suffering as valueless
- self-sacrifice
- voluntary euthanasia and suicide
- active/passive - killing/letting die
- involuntary euthanasia
A Christian Response to Euthanasia
- sanctity of life ethic
- anti-consequentialism (principles are grounded in
the nature of God)
-> moral difference between killing and letting die
-> this rules out active euthanasia
- slippery slope argument
-> good(s): neither measurable nor commensurable
Medical concerns
- patient's request for natural death may be based
on fear or misinformation
- advances of medical science
- modern medicine can reduce pain to a bearable
- doctors should not be involved in euthanasia
(Hippocratic Oath)
Additional biblical and theological concerns
- value of suffering
- perspective on life, death and the afterlife
Other concerns
- healing as a biblical alternative to euthanasia
- extending mercy includes proper care, but not
granting their wish to die
- one’s understanding of personhood is critical
- proper understanding of double effect doctrine
Questions for case study
- What are the ethical principles in the presented
- What biblical principle(s) speak to the ethical
- Which course of action do you suggest for Rick
Noble after weighing the biblical principles?
Full transcript