Should we change the law to allow euthanasia
Reaction Statement 2. Should we change the law to allow euthanasia?
Consider this case and then answer the questions that follow.
Minnie is an 84-year-old woman with severe peripheral vascular disease, and her condition is regarded as terminal. She is certain to die within a week or so. She had refused surgery to remove arterial blood clots a few days earlier. The surgery offered some chance of saving her life, but it also might have required subsequent amputation of parts or all of one or both of her legs. She wanted no part of that, and she says repeatedly that she is ready to die. Throughout her life she has consistently favored euthanasia. Now she is in some discomfort and wants the doctor to cause her to die rather than to let nature take its course. The family has accepted her terminal prognosis and her wishes. They are at her bedside. They see the choice as one of either deciding the time of her death and being able to say good-bye or else having her die at an unpredictable time, perhaps after suffering pain and possibly when neither of her two children or husband (who suffers from Alzheimer disease) is with her. (The children also have to attend to their father’s needs.) They ask the physician to increase her morphine dose with the purpose of bringing about a peaceful and timely death. The physician has no religious or ethical objections but refuses because this action would be against current law which prohibits action with the purpose of bringing about a peaceful and timely death.
Question: should the law be changed to allow it?
1. First, yes or no. (That’s all.)
2. If you answered yes (the law should be changed to allow it), what is the strongest ethical argument opposed to such a change in the law? State that argument in one clear sentence and develop it.
If you answered no, what is the strongest ethical argument in favor of such a change in the law? State the argument in one clear sentence and develop it.
3. Why are you not persuaded by the argument in section 2? This could either be because you regard the argument in #2 as unsound (explain why) or because you judge another moral consideration to outweigh whatever soundness the argument in #2 has (explain the other consideration and why you regard is as outweighing #2).
Possible components in your discussion, depending on the challenge in paragraph 2
a) If you favor laws allowing euthanasia or active aid in dying, consider what possible conditions you would include in the law to guard against abuse or dangers that opponents often cite.
b) If you oppose any change in the law, how you do you respond to attempts to formulate laws with built-in safeguards to prevent abuses often cited?