By J. Kure
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Additional info for Euthanasia - The Good Death Controversy in Humans and Animals
G. psychiatric patient), another person than the physician administrating the lethal dose, and other parameters. 6. The meaning of euthanasia in current discussions In the next section, the conceptual understanding of euthanasia in current discussions will be examined. As it follows from the previous typology of euthanasia, the current debates on euthanasia are mainly based on typologies 10 through 14; some people also include typology 8 (withholding treatment) and typology 9 (withdrawing treatment) under euthanasia, under the guise of “passive euthanasia”, and thereby, in a misleading way, calling the reduction or termination of medically futile treatment “euthanasia”.
Thus two completely different situations have been denominated by one and the same term, then we have situations were euthanasia is “good” and “permissible” and situations where euthanasia is “evil” and “wrong”. In the end we have deeply confusing semantics which causes that euthanasia discussions will be meaningless. 9. Termination of medically futile therapy which prolongs life (and suffering) of the terminally ill patient: withdrawing life-sustaining treatment This type of “euthanasia” coincides with withdrawing of medically futile therapy (including life-sustaining treatment) with or without the patient’s consent.
The doctrine establishing an important moral difference between “commission” and “omission”, between “active” and “passive”, between “ordinary means” and “extraordinary means” became useless and misleading when applied to euthanasia as it was understood in the 1970s and 1980s (Husak, 1980; Jonsen, 1998; Kamm, 1994; Walton, 1976). It follows that in one case, euthanasia is sometimes permissible, while in another case always forbidden. This doctrine, based on the distinction between act (commission) and omission, and adopted by the American Medical Association in 1973, was very soon challenged, as this would lead to decisions on life and death being made on morally irrelevant grounds (Rachels, 1975), at present not recognized by most philosophers.