PP0113 - Week Five

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Week 5 :: When is euthenasia OK? (12-18 Aug.)

Assisted suicide did not always carry the stigma it does today. It was an accepted practice in the ancient world. Athenian magistrates stockpiled poisons for their citizens, with the admonition “If your life is hateful to you, die; if you are overwhelmed by fate, drink the hemlock.”

Should assisted suicide be a legal option for those patients who choose it, regardless of their medical condition? The argument is often made when patients are terminally ill and face a future of increasing dependence and pain, but what about those patients who are not in physical pain, are not terminally ill, for example those who suffer from locked-in syndrome?

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If we ignore the religious argument (something like, "Only God can decide who lives and dies"), then to what authority can we appeal? How can we make decisions that are not driven by moral or emotional arguments?

Readings


Questions to guide your thinking on the topic. Note that you don't have to try and answer these questions, they are simply meant to stimulate your thinking:

  1. Do you believe that people should have control over their own bodies, and therefore their destiny?
  2. If we have "free will", shouldn't we be allowed to exercise it?
  3. If your role in the healthcare system is to improve the quality of life for your patients, can you rationally support assisted suicide?
  4. If only God can decide who lives and dies, then shouldn't the medical profession eschew any life-saving procedures? Why have CPR-training if it's out of our hands?


Once you have written your own blog post:

  1. Interact with others by reading and commenting on their work.
  2. Revisit your own work after reading what others have written.