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Religion and ethics OCR A level > Euthanasia > Flashcards

Flashcards in Euthanasia Deck (16)
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Euthanasia - introduction

>Comes from the Greek words for a 'good death'
>A controversial issue - should people be able to end their own or others lives at a time of their own choosing?


Euthanasia - Sanctity of life

>Life is special, sacred, holy, and has an intrinsic worth
>This belief is often held for religious reasons - gift from God, made in the image of God
>Non-religious people may think this because of reason and free-will
>Some believe that ALL life is sacred
>Bible can be used as support - 'So God created mankind in his own image' (Genesis 1:27)
>Bible can also be used to question - God commands war
>Can be used as an argument against euthanasia- no one has the right to take life away
>A breakable moral rule - can sometimes be moral to take life


Euthanasia - Sanctity of life - Slippery slope argument

>Once life is considered to be less than sacred in some cases. It undermines all human dignity and allows people to be treated as disposable


Euthanasia - Quality of life

>Often bought into debates about euthanasia as a counter-argument to 'sanctity of life' beliefs
>Considers how much enjoyment and fulfilment someone is getting given their state of physical and mental health. Looks into the future at the prognosis of their condition.
>Considers whether the life is worth living or whether bringing about death would be preferable
>Some people argue that if someone has a debilitating, painful, or terminal condition then they should not be compelled to live until they die naturally
>Commonly considered in cases of animal welfare


Euthanasia - Personhood

>What makes a living thing a person? If a living thing is not a person then perhaps it doesn't have the same rights as persons do
>In order to be a person there must be awareness of self and others, and an ability to interact with the world
>In order to be a person the only requirement is to be human
>Other species should also be considered as persons or that personhood is a sliding scale
>Linked to capacities and functions - raises issues about foetuses or people with severe brain damage
>Question of potential is also an issue of personhood - should a living thing have dignity and rights because of what it has the potential to become?


Euthanasia - Voluntary euthanasia

>Hippocratic oath obliges doctors to do good and avoid evil.
>When a patients life is ended upon their own request and is illegal in the UK but legal in some other countries (Switzerland)
>The focus of legal challenges when people in very difficult circumstances challenge the law


Euthanasia - Voluntary euthanasia - For

>A key argument in support is that people should have the right to avoid pain and choose a gentle and painless death as long as it is done rationally
>Suicide is an option for abled people and it is discriminatory not to allow it for disabled people (how the fuck would you argue this point in an essay)


Euthanasia - Voluntary euthanasia - Against

>Some argue against because the person may change their mind but not be able to communicate it
>Allowing this will encourage unscrupulous people to put pressure on sick relatives to end their lives when they don't want to
>Puts doctors and health professionals in an impossible position


Euthanasia - Non-voluntary euthanasia

>Euthanasia without the request of the patient
>Could happen in cases of severe brain damage, when a baby is born with multiple complications, or when someone is incapable of communication
>Medical science has progressed to the extent where people with severe loss of brain function can be kept alive artificially for a long time
>Some people write 'living wills' to clarify their wishes if they were to become incapable of function


Euthanasia - Non-voluntary euthanasia - For

>Most compassionate course of action when someone has no prospect of having an acceptable standard of brain function


Euthanasia - Non-voluntary euthanasia - Against

>It is not for us to decide what is an acceptable standard of brain function
>There is never a point where medical professionals can be certain that there is no hope of improvement


Euthanasia - Active vs non-treatment

Active - Doing something to bring about death
Non-treatment - Ceasing treatment to bring about death


Euthanasia - Applying natural law

>Do good avoid evil, preserve life
>Life is a gift from God
>Catholics - euthanasia is wrong
>An apparent good
>There is no obligation under NML to go to great lengths to keep someone alive when treatment is 'burdensome' and nor meaningful
>Double-effect, someone's pain treatment could shorten life - the intention is not to kill therefore the action is not wrong
>Lack higher function - rules about treatment might not apply


Euthanasia - Applying natural law: + and -

>Clear guidance
>Respects religious beliefs about SoL
>Doesn't leave people vulnerable to unscrupulous relatives
>Avoids a 'slippery slope'
>Medical advances make it hard to tell if some treatment should be seen as 'burdensome' or 'extraordinary'


Euthanasia - Applying situation ethics

>Take into account each individual's personal situation
>Euthanasia can be justified if it will bring about the most loving outcome for the patient and their friends and family
>Fletcher - QoL is more important than SoL


Euthanasia - Applying situation ethics: + and -

>Far more compassionate in individual situations rather than a blanket ban on euthanasia
>Less discriminatory towards disabled people
>Greater emphasis on human autonomy
>Doesn't give recognition to the sacred nature of human life
>Most loving course of action isn't always easy to identify
>Allowing euthanasia on a case-by-case basis makes legislation difficult
>Legalising euthanasia may cause a 'slippery slope' where people are euthanised when it might not be what they really wanted