Death and Euthanasia

Publication Title: 
Health Progress (Saint Louis, Mo.)

The success of science and medical technology has led to medical brinkmanship, pushing aggressive treatment as far as it can go. But medicine lacks the precision necessary for such brinkmanship to succeed, and the resulting cycle of expectation and disappointment in technology has, in part, led to an increasing acceptance of euthanasia and assisted suicide, linked closely with advocacy for patient autonomy. At the opposite extreme lies medical vitalism, which refers to attempts to preserve the patient's life in and of itself without any significant hope for recovery.

Author(s): 
Nairn, T. A.
Publication Title: 
Journal of Palliative Care

The principle of double effect is widely used to permit the administration of narcotics and sedatives with the intent to palliate dying patients, even though the administration of these drugs may cause hastening of death. In recent medical literature, this principle's validity has been severely criticized, causing health care providers to fear providing good palliative care. Most of the criticisms levelled at the principle of double effect arise from misconceptions about its purpose and origins.

Author(s): 
Hawryluck, L. A.
Harvey, W. R.
Publication Title: 
University of Pittsburgh Law Review. University of Pittsburgh. School of Law

Oregon's Death with Dignity Act was first passed by a ballot initiative in 1994, but numerous judicial challenges delayed implementation of the Act. In November of 1997, following the United States Supreme Court decisions in Vacco v. Quill and Washington v. Glucksberg, which left the states' power to regulate physician-assisted suicide undisturbed, the Oregon voters upheld their law. Oregon remains the only state in the nation to authorize physician-assisted suicide.

Author(s): 
O'Brien, C. N.
Madek, G. A.
Ferrera, G. R.
Publication Title: 
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

The use of terminal sedation to control the intense discomfort of dying patients appears both to be an established practice in palliative care and to run counter to the moral and legal norm that forbids health care professionals from intentionally killing patients. This raises the worry that the requirements of established palliative care are incompatible with moral and legal opposition to euthanasia. This paper explains how the doctrine of double effect can be relied on to distinguish terminal sedation from euthanasia.

Author(s): 
Boyle, Joseph
Publication Title: 
Issues in Law & Medicine

On March 20, 2004, Pope John Paul II issued a statement to the International Conference on "Life Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific and Ethical Dilemmas" on the provision of food and water to patients in a "vegetative state." The purpose of this allocution was to promote and protect the dignity of patients, even when they are in a seriously ill and disabled state. To promote the dignity of these patients, the Pope explicitly stated that "quality of life judgments" were not to be applied to the administration of nutrition and fluids.

Author(s): 
Barry, Robert
Publication Title: 
Health care ethics USA: a publication of the Center for Health Care Ethics

Ethics committees are use [sic] to questions concerning the withdrawal of life-support. Such questions become increasingly complex when that life-support is implantable, like a pacemaker. This essay seeks to address the question of under what, if any, circumstances it would be permissible to discontinue the use of such implantable devices.

Author(s): 
Slosar, John Paul
Publication Title: 
Medicinska Etika a Bioetika: Casopis Ustavu Medicinskej Etiky a Bioetiky = Medical Ethics & Bioethics: Journal of the Institute of Medical Ethics & Bioethics

Decisions on whether to resuscitate severely premature infants are especially difficult in "borderline viability" cases--those where the probability of survival is slim, and where, if survival is possible, multiple co-morbidities and severe disabilities are likely. The 2000 International Guidelines on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation are comprehensive, yet leave open some of the more difficult ethical questions that must be addressed by decision-makers.

Author(s): 
O'Brien, Dan
Publication Title: 
Medicinska Etika a Bioetika: Casopis Ustavu Medicinskej Etiky a Bioetiky = Medical Ethics & Bioethics: Journal of the Institute of Medical Ethics & Bioethics

We are all called to make moral decisions, not only about preserving life and health, but also about accepting our death and dying. There are situations, when it is morally right, and indeed obligatory, to allow a dying person to die in peace and dignity. But there is a world of difference between allowing a peaceful death, and deliberately setting out to bring death of the person either by acts of commission (s.c. 'active euthanasia'), or by acts of omission (s.c. 'passive euthanasia').

Author(s): 
Narbekovas, Andrius
Meilius, Kazimieras
Publication Title: 
Christian Bioethics

This article discusses the unexpectedly firm stance professed by John Paul II on the provision of artificial nutrition and hydration to patients who are in a persistent vegetative state, and it implications on previously held standards of judging medical treatments. The traditional ordinary/extraordinary care distinction is assessed in light of complexities of the recent allocution as well as its impact on Catholic individuals and in Catholic health care facilities.

Author(s): 
Shannon, Thomas A.
Publication Title: 
Christian Bioethics

This essay reviews the Roman Catholic moral tradition surrounding treatments at the end of life together with the challenges presented to that tradition by the Texas Advance Directives Act. The impact on Catholic health care facilities and physicians, and the way in which the moral tradition should be applied under this statute, particularly with reference to the provision dealing with conflicts over end-of-life treatments, will be critically assessed.

Author(s): 
Zientek, David M.

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