Tag: passive euthanasia

Bioethics Blogs

Burke, Briggs and Wills: Why we should not fear the judgment in Charlie Gard

In a blog post today, Julian Savulescu argues that in a parallel adult version of the highly controversial Charlie Gard case, a UK court might thwart an unconscious patient’s previously expressed desire for self-funded experimental medical treatment. He finds the Gard decision deeply disturbing and suggests that we all have reason to fear the Charlie Gard judgment.

I respectfully beg to differ.

Julian’s thought experiment of the billionaire ‘Donald Wills’ is not analogous to the real Charlie Gard case, his analysis of the UK legal approach to best interests cases for adults is potentially mistaken, his fear is misplaced.

Wills and Gard

Thought experiments are an important tool in philosophy and medical ethics. They enable us to analyse our intuitive responses to ethical questions. Comparing parallel cases – for example as James Rachels did in his now famous 1975 paper ‘Active and Passive Euthanasia’ – can helpfully identify factors that are relevant to ethical analysis, as well as factors that aren’t relevant. However, like scientific experiments, thought experiments need to be carefully designed. Otherwise they can mislead.

Julian imagines a wealthy adult patient, Donald Wills, who has a rare mitochondrial illness very similar to Charlie Gard. While Wills’ wife has identified a potential treatment and requested that he be transferred overseas for an experimental treatment, the imaginary court, in a decision parallel to the Gard case, finds that this treatment would not be in Donald’s best interests. The judge denies the request and Donald’s treatment is withdrawn.

However, in a divergence from the Gard case, Julian tells us that Wills

“wishes to live as long as possible.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics: Secondary Intentions in Euthanasia, written by Isabel Canfield

This essay received an Honourable Mention in the Undergraduate Category of the Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics 2017

Written by University of Oxford student, Isabel Canfield

The debate about the moral permissibility of euthanasia is often presented as hinging upon the distinction between killing and letting die. This debate is often focused around a discussion of intention. This paper will attempt to answer the question, is there an additional level of intention, that has not been considered in the current debate on the moral permissibility of euthanasia, that should be considered?

It will be helpful to begin by outlining some of the terms that I will use throughout this paper. To this end, “euthanasia” is the act of killing someone else with the intention of avoiding the harm of living a continued life that is worse than death.[1 2] The distinction between active and passive euthanasia is complicated and at times not entirely clear. Typically, and for the purposes of this paper, active euthanasia is defined as an act that requires the agent who brings about death to do so purposefully. This purposeful action can be the completion of some task or tasks to accomplish this specific end. Meanwhile, passive euthanasia comes about when the agent who brings about death, if an agent can be said to bring about death at all in these cases, does so by purposefully not acting to continue to sustain the life of the person who dies.[3]

Any distinction in intention between active and passive euthanasia, supporters of active euthanasia argue, has been artificially created.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

ASBH 2016 in Washington DC

ASBH 2016 begins for me, one week from today, with a Board meeting of the American Society for Bioethics + Humanities.

I look forward to engaging with more than 1000 healthcare professionals, educators, consultants, and others who have an interest in the field of clinical and academic bioethics and the health-related humanities.

Here are a few sessions that I will presenting or attending.

THURSDAY 1:30 TO 2:30 PM
Shared Decision-Making, Futility, and Responding to Requests for Inappropriate Treatment: Helping Clinical Ethicists Participate in Implementation of International Policy Recommendations

THURSDAY 2:45 TO 3:45 PM
Medical Futility and Involuntary Passive Euthanasia

FRIDAY 10:45 TO 12:15 PM
The Patient Would Like to Eat Something: VSED and a Puzzle of Autonomy

FRIDAY 2:20 TO 3:20 PM
Dead Wrong? Ethical Implications of Misdiagnoses in Brain Death and the Vegetative State

SATURDAY 8:00 TO 9:00 AM
Legal Update 2016: Top 10 Legal Developments in Bioethics

SATURDAY 10:45 TO 11:15 AM
Bioethicists Must Engage the Public: Using Social Media to Advance Public Literacy in Bioethics

SATURDAY 3:15 TO 4:15 PM
Community Ethics Committee: Thoughts on VSED

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Right to Die – Slow Evolution in India

On Friday, the Supreme Court of India again addressed the status of the right to die.  

The NGO Common Cause is seeking a declaration that the “right to die” is a fundamental right for patients in a permanent vegetative state.  The court will take up the matter again on February 1.  (Telegraph)  

In contrast to the debate in India, the right to decline life-sustaining treatment (voluntary passive euthanasia) has been established in the United States for over 25 years.  

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Woman at centre of Indian euthanasia debate dies

Aruna Shanbaug  

A woman at the centre of a debate over euthanasia in India has died after 42 years in a minimally conscious state. In 1973 Aruna Shanbaug, a 25-year-old nurse in Mumbai, was brutally assaulted and strangled by a contract cleaner. She did not die, but was left severely brain-damaged.

In 2010 journalist Pinki Virani applied on her behalf for euthanasia. The case went all the way to the Indian Supreme Court which decided that while “passive euthanasia” by withdrawing nutrition and hydration might be permitted, the decision was up to her surrogate decision-maker. In Aruna’s case it was King Edward Memorial Hospital and it adamantly supported on-going palliative care.

It was a complex case and in their judgement, Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra acknowledged that “we feel like a ship in an uncharted sea, seeking some guidance by the light thrown by the legislations and judicial pronouncements of foreign countries”. In the end they set down that “life support” can be withdrawn provided that a close relative or “next friend” or even the doctors request it. However, approval must be sought from one of India’s 21 High Courts to ensure that the decision is in the best interest of the patient. This, the justices insisted, was essential.

“We cannot rule out the possibility that unscrupulous persons with the help of some unscrupulous doctors may fabricate material to show that it is a terminal case with no chance of recovery. There are doctors and doctors. While many doctors are upright, there are others who can do anything for money.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Meet the PRIM&R Blog Squad for the 2014 AER Conference: Anita Pascoe

by Anita Pascoe, MS, CIP, Project Coordinator at Intermountain Healthcare

PRIM&R is pleased to introduce Anita Pascoe, MS, CIP, a member of the PRIM&R Blog Squad for the 2014 Advancing Ethical Research (AER) Conference. The PRIM&R Blog Squad is composed of PRIM&R members who will blog here, on Ampersand, about the conference to give our readers an inside peek of what’s happening December 4-7 in Baltimore, MD. 

Hello! My name is Anita Pascoe, and I am a card-carrying IRB professional, a full-time graduate student, an enthusiastic writer, and a very excited soon-to-be third time attendee at PRIM&R’s annual Advancing Ethical Research Conference (aptly titled Reflecting on the Past, Shaping the Future), which will be held in Baltimore, MD next month. I was thrilled to receive the email stating that I had been accepted as a PRIM&R Blog Squad member and I cannot wait to blog about my impressions of the conference and the ideas and information I gain from the sessions and connections with other conference attendees.

Reflecting on my past, my first introduction to research ethics came during the mid-80s when I was a nursing student in my native Norway. I became fascinated by an ongoing and heated national debate regarding active and passive euthanasia. Zoom forward a couple of decades, following a move to the United States, I enrolled in an undergraduate medical ethics course at the University of Utah. The rest is history. I have been hooked ever since.

I was introduced to the quirky world of IRB regulations, processes, and procedures roughly four years ago, when I joined the IRB staff at Intermountain Healthcare.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.