Mercy Killing Essay

1569 Words 7 Pages
The applied moral issue of euthanasia, or mercy killing, concerns whether it is morally acceptable for a third party, such as a physician, to end the life of a terminally ill patient who is in intense pain. I will go further into the facts of this in my paper.

The euthanasia controversy is part of a larger issue concerning the right to die.
Staunch defenders of personal liberty argue that all of us are morally entitled to end our lives when we see fit. Thus, according to these people, suicide is in principle morally permissible. For health care workers, the issue of the right to die is most prominent when a patient in their care is terminally ill, is in intense pain, and voluntarily chooses to end their life to escape prolonged
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During the Renaissance, English humanist Thomas More defended Euthanasia in book Utopia. More describes in idealic terms the function of hospitals. Hospital workers watch after patients with tender care and do everything in their power to cure illnesses. However, when a patient has a torturous and incurable illness, the patient has the option to die, either through starvation or opium. In New Atlantis, British philosopher Francis Bacon writes that physicians are "not only to restore the health, but to ease pain and dolours; and not only when such mitigation may conduce to recovery, but when it may serve to make a fair and easy passage."

One of the most cited contemporarily discussions on the subject of euthanasia is
"Active and Passive Euthanasia", by University of Alabama philosophy professor
James Rachels. Rachels argues that there is no moral difference between actively killing a patient and passively allowing the patient to die. Thus, it is less cruel for physicians to use active procedures of mercy killing. Rachels argues that, from a strictly moral standpoint, there is no difference between passive and active euthanasia. He begins by noting that the AMA (American Medical Association) prohibits active euthanasia, yet allows passive euthanasia. He offers two arguments for why physicians should place passive euthanasia in the same category as active euthanasia. First,

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