07/08. tbl 93. árg. 2007


Euthanasia - a moral choice?

Líknardráp - siðferðilegur valkostur?

Læknablaðið 2007;93: 543-551

Euthanasia has been heatedly discussed in Western countries over the last years. Only a few nations have legalized euthanasia or physician assisted suicide with the Dutch at the forefront of that field. Proponents of euthanasia mostly argue for euthanasia on two grounds. Firstly, that the patient has a right to die and secondly, that there is no substantial difference between euthanasia and palliative care.

In this paper I will argue against both of the above. I discuss the arguments against euthanasia which are in principle four. Firstly, it is held by many that taking a human life is wrong under all circumstances. Secondly, that it is an unjustifiable demand to ask a person to take another person?s life. In relation to that argument, euthanasia is not in accordance with the basic principles of medicine and nursing as they have evolved over the years and could therefore easily disrupt the therapeutic relationship. Thirdly, as shown from Holland there is empirical evidence that euthanasia is not under good enough surveillance and therefore invites misuse. Fourthly, even though euthanasia might possibly be justifiable under certain circumstances, legalisation might well invite abuse because of the message and pressure that the option places on both patients and professionals in terminal care.

My answer to the euthanasia demand is palliative care, where dialogue between the patient and doctor is central. But the dialogue cannot be effective, unless both partners are willing and able to engage in sincere and frank conversations.

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