Conventional medical ethics relating to end-of-life decisions draws two bright lines between ethically permitted and forbidden practices. Clinicians may withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment but must never administer lethal treatment. Additionally, palliative care that relieves suffering, even at the risk of hastening death, is permitted, but active euthanasia is forbidden. Drawing on the argument in Chapter 1, we reject both of these bright lines. It does not follow that these end-of-life practices are morally equivalent. Patients have a right to decide to withdraw life support and a right to receive palliative care; they have no right to receive lethal treatment. We argue that contrary to the traditional view, active euthanasia as a treatment of last resort is compatible with the role morality and the professional integrity of physicians. However, it raises complex issues of policy that make it an open question as to whether this practice should be legally permitted.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.