BACKGROUND: Euthanasia can be thought of as being either active or passive; but the precise definition of "passive euthanasia" is not always clear. Though all passive euthanasia involves the withholding of life-sustaining treatment, there would appear to be some disagreement about whether all such withholding should be seen as passive euthanasia.
MAIN TEXT: At the core of the disagreement is the question of the importance of an intention to bring about death: must one intend to bring about the death of the patient in order for withholding treatment to count as passive euthanasia, as some sources would indicate, or does withholding in which death is merely foreseen belong to that category? We may expect that this unclarity would be important in medical practice, in law, and in policy. The idea that withholding life-sustaining treatment is passive euthanasia is traced to James Rachels's arguments, which lend themselves to the claim that passive euthanasia does not require intention to end life. Yet the argument here is that Rachels's arguments are flawed, and we have good reasons to think that intention is important in understanding the moral nature of actions. As such, we should reject any understanding of passive euthanasia that does not pay attention to intent.
SHORT CONCLUSION: James Rachels's work on active and passive euthanasia has been immensely influential; but this is an influence that we ought to resist.
The Dutch Supreme Court this week ruled that a doctor may act on a previously written euthanasia request and end the life of a patient who, because of advanced dementia, can no longer express their wishes.
Doctors must, however, still adhere to criteria of care for euthanasia practice if they are to avoid prosecution. These, enshrined in the 2002 law, include that the patient is suffering “hopelessly and unbearably” and that the request is “voluntary and well considered,” meaning that the patient must be competent when the request was made.
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In a recent Dutch euthanasia case, a woman underwent euthanasia on the basis of an advance directive, having first been sedated without her knowledge and then restrained by members of her family while the euthanasia was administered. This article considers some implications of the criminal court’s acquittal of the doctor who performed the euthanasia. Supporters of advance euthanasia directives have welcomed the judgement as providing a clarification of the law, especially with regard to the admissibility of contextual evidence in interpreting advance euthanasia directives, but suggested that the law regarding advance euthanasia directives should be further relaxed to remove the requirement of current suffering and that an unfortunate consequence of the prosecution is that it is likely to deter doctors from performing euthanasia even in more straightforward cases. This article argues that the court’s endorsement of the use of contextual evidence is problematic, that the case for prioritising prior decisions over current interests has not been advanced by the discussion surrounding this case and that worries about the alleged deterrent effect are not well founded.
In a recent article Joshua James Hatherley argues that, if physician-assisted suicide (PAS) is morally permissible for patients suffering from somatic illnesses, it should be permissible for psychiatric patients as well. He argues that psychiatric disorders do not necessarily impair decision-making ability, that they are not necessarily treatable and that legalising PAS for psychiatric patients would not diminish research and therapeutic interest in psychiatric treatments or impair their recovery through loss of hope. However, by erasing distinction between somatic and psychiatric disorders on those grounds, he also erases distinction between healthy adults and patients (whether somatic or psychiatric) essentially implying that PAS should be available to all, for all reasons or, ultimately no reason. Furthermore, as psychiatric patients are much more likely to be a source of usable organs for transplantation, their broad inclusion would strengthen the link between PAS/euthanasia and organ donation, potentially undermining both as well as diminishing already declining general trust in medical authorities and professionals and public health authorities and activists.
François Lambert, proche de Vincent Lambert, propose son témoignage sur l'euthanasie, le suicide assisté et la fin de vie. Devenu avocat, l'auteur dévoile les coulisses de la lutte entre les membres de sa famille.
Que ce soit en France ou ailleurs, la question de l'euthanasie divise encore l'opinion publique. La Belgique, en dépénalisant sa pratique depuis 2002, fait figure d'avant-gardiste. Mais au-delà de la polémique, cette question délicate conserve bien souvent une part d'opacité pour les patients et leurs proches, tout comme pour les professionnels de la santé. Engagé depuis quinze ans dans la défense de cette liberté de choix, le docteur François Damas réalise ici un état des lieux des protocoles existants et aborde la réalité du terrain avec humanité et délicatesse.
Ce livre constitue une enquête sur l'affaire Vincent Lambert, homme en état végétatif autour duquel sa famille se déchire à coups de procédure judiciaire. En révélant les dimensions politique et romanesque de ce drame familial, elle pose également les questions éthiques de la fin de vie, de l'euthanasie et du suicide assisté.
Pilou, un petit oiseau, vit une vie heureuse dans la ferme, entre ses parents et surtout Paulette, la star de la basse-cour ! Mais voilà, un jour, Paulette tombe malade et c'est toutes les petites habitudes du quotidien qui sont modifiées. C'est que la maladie de Paulette est "trop forte", le docteur ne peut plus la guérir. Face au chagrin de ses proches, Pilou se pose des questions sur la maladie et la mort. Heureusement, toute la basse-cour est là pour accompagner ses derniers jours. Le médecin aide Paulette à mourir sans souffrance grâce à une piqûre. C'est un premier deuil pour Pilou, qui apprendra alors à se souvenir des bons moments pour emporter avec lui "la bonne humeur de Paulette".
The scholarship of euthanasia indicates that in most cases, to date, non-voluntary euthanasia has been studied where euthanasia is legalized. Findings of these studies demonstrate the 'slippery slope' and reveal that non-voluntary euthanasia is pervasive in these countries. The research is aimed at answering two questions: (1) What are the common death hastening methods? (2) Is the acceptance of active non-voluntary euthanasia related to the legal status of euthanasia? A qualitative study was conducted in ICUs with 15 nurses. All of the interviewees refused to take part in the death hastening cases and did not obey any doctor's instruction that could hasten or cause death. Therefore, doctors who conducted NVE did it by themselves. The present study provides evidence of the phenomenon of illegal non-voluntary euthanasia as a routine practice by physicians in palliative care units in Israel. Interviews with 15 nurses employed in these units shed light on the means and methods used by these doctors to hasten terminal patients' death. We conclude that Nurses in various end-of-life care units persist in preserving their professional integrity and refuse to obey doctors' instructions for non-voluntary euthanasia. The slippery slope argument has been refuted in this context.
The purpose of this article is to analyze the main medical, legal, and ethical issues and challenges of euthanasia in the digital age. The methods that were used in this study are historical, logical, empirical, as well as comparative legal method for comparison of laws and practices of the EU and post-Soviet countries, including Ukraine. This choice determined by the fact that both groups of countries have common features and relations, while the features of their development affect approaches to regulating such sensitive and potentially open to abuse problems as euthanasia. There is no final legal answer as to whether to legalize, decriminalize or prohibit euthanasia in any of its forms. The features and legal terms of active and passive, voluntary and non-voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide, especially for psychiatric and minor patients were researched, as well as conflicting arguments, which include individual autonomy, right to choose, the opportunity to get rid of suffering, as well as undermining the practice of palliative care, abuse in cases of vulnerable and dependent patients, moral burden on the doctors. The issue of control of the practice of euthanasia is complicated, given the extent to which it is possible to obtain informed consent, establish criteria for suffering and hopelessness, check the persistence, conviction and validity of requests for euthanasia, especially in the digital era. The potential legislation and judicial practice should provide for strict and effective guarantees, respect for the beliefs of each person and the right not to participate in any contentious practices, the balance of human rights and social values.
This study examines the impact of the level of religious observance on the attitudes toward end-of-life (EOL) decisions and euthanasia of Jews in Israel-where euthanasia is illegal-as compared to Jews living in the USA, in the states where euthanasia is legal. A self-reporting questionnaire on religiosity and personal beliefs and attitudes regarding EOL care and euthanasia was distributed, using a convenience sample of 271 participants from Israel and the USA. Findings show that significant differences were found in attitudes between Jews of different levels of religious observance with respect to patient autonomy, right to die with dignity, and dying in familiar and supportive surroundings. The USA and Israeli Jews have similar knowledge regarding EOL care and expressed similar attitudes and perceptions toward the issues of authority of medical staff and religious figures and patient's autonomy. Findings indicate that the level of religious observance has more potency in shaping their attitudes and perceptions of EOL decisions than the state law. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings with regard to multicultural health systems and providing practical recommendations.
Several longitudinal studies show that over time the American public has become more approving of euthanasia and suicide for terminally ill persons. Yet, these previous findings are limited because they derive from biased estimates of disaggregated hierarchical data. Using insights from life course sociological theory and cross-classified logistic regression models, I better account for this liberalization process by disentangling the age, period, and cohort effects that contribute to longitudinal changes in these attitudes. The results of the analysis point toward a continued liberalization of both attitudes over time, although the magnitude of change was greater for suicide compared with euthanasia. More fluctuation in the probability of supporting both measures was exhibited for the age and period effects over the cohort effects. In addition, age-based differences in supporting both measures were found between men and women and various religious affiliations.
The descriptive study was conducted to investigate the knowledge, opinions, behaviors of senior nursing students regarding euthanasia and factors in Islam influencing these. Almost all students (97.7%) knew about euthanasia. Their knowledge, opinions and behaviors were affected by their beliefs about death, religious beliefs and the idea of being subject to euthanasia themselves. Religion influenced whether they wanted euthanasia to be legalized or would carry it out secretly. Students who would be willing for their relatives to undergo euthanasia would not want to participate in this. Knowledge about the concept of euthanasia should be increased and the subject further investigated in many dimensions.
L’auteur Jacques Brotchi retrace, dans un dialogue avec sa petite-nièce, l’évolution de la notion d’euthanasie et ses implications morales en Belgique et ailleurs. Avec clarté et délicatesse, il explique dans quelles circonstances chacun peut bénéficier du droit de choisir sa n de vie et partir dans l’apaisement et la dignité.
L'auteur apporte une réflexion sur l'euthanasie associant anthropologie, sociologie, philosophie, théologie, politique et éthique. Il souligne les divisions qu'elle suscite au sein des sociétés comme des familles, en raison du fait qu'elle n'interroge pas uniquement la mort mais aussi la vie et les valeurs tout en obligeant l'individu à porter un autre regard sur sa propre existence et sa condition humaine.
Par une décision très attendue, la Cour constitutionnelle italienne a dépénalisé l’assistance au suicide dans certaines hypothèses et sous certaines conditions bien déterminées. Elle s’est prononcée en ce sens après avoir, par une précédente décision, imparti un délai au législateur pour qu’il adopte une loi en matière de fin de vie. Considérant l’inertie de ce dernier, la Cour fait preuve d’équilibrisme dans sa seconde décision, oscillant entre garantie des droits fondamentaux et respect du pouvoir discrétionnaire du Parlement. Par ces deux décisions, les juges constitutionnels italiens ont ainsi mis en place une technique inédite pour parvenir, en deux étapes, aux mêmes effets qu’une déclaration d’inconstitutionnalité à effet différé, afin de ne pas laisser des droits fondamentaux dépourvus de garantie en raison de l’inaction du législateur.
BACKGROUND: In the Netherlands, euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide (EAS) is allowed if due care criteria are met. One criterion is consultation of a second independent physician, often SCEN physicians. The public debate about EAS focuses on patients with psychiatric disorders, dementia, and tired of living, as complex cases. What complexities SCEN physicians perceive during consultation is unknown. This study aims to assess the frequency of EAS consultations that are perceived difficult by SCEN physicians, to explore what complexities are perceived by SCEN physicians during consultation, and to assess what characteristics are associated with difficult consultations.
METHODS: Data from 2015 to 2017 from an annual cross-sectional survey among SCEN physicians was used. In 2015, the survey focused on the most difficult consultation that year and in 2016/2017 on the most recent consultation. Frequencies of coded answers to an open-ended question were done to explore what complexities SCEN physicians perceived during their most difficult consultation. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to assess what characteristics were associated with difficult consultations.
RESULTS: 21.6% of cases consulted by SCEN physicians is perceived difficult. Complexities that SCEN physicians perceive were mainly in contact with patients (79.7%) and in the assessment of due care criteria (41.0%). Characteristics that were associated with a higher likelihood of a consultation being difficult are the attending physician being less certain to perform the EAS, patients staying in the hospital, main diagnosis heart failure/CVA, and accumulation of age-related health problems/psychiatry/dementia, and the presence of a psychiatric disorder, or psychosocial or existential problems besides the main diagnosis. Characteristics that were associated with a lower likelihood of a consultation being difficult are high patient's age and physical suffering as reason to request EAS.
CONCLUSION: Complexities perceived by SCEN physicians in EAS consultations are not limited to the 'complex' cases present in the current public debate about EAS, e.g. patients with psychiatric disorders, dementia, and tired of living. Attention for these complexities in intervision could indicate if there is a need among SCEN physicians to enhance knowledge and skills in training and to receive specific support in intervision on these complexities.
De plus en plus souvent, nous entendons parler d'euthanasie : que ce soit par les médias, par les politiques, par les services publics ou par diverses associations, la thématique est sur toutes les langues.
Cependant, force est de constater que le sujet est bien souvent abordé avec méconnaissance ou parti pris. Mon souhait est donc d'intervenir dans cet ouvrage pour décrire le plus fidèlement possible la très dure réalité qui entoure le processus d'euthanasie.
Non, la vie dans nos hôpitaux n'est pas - ou n'est plus - un long fleuve tranquille. Elle est en crue permanente, avec de nombreux débordements quotidiens. En tant que membre du personnel soignant, je constate combien il nous est difficile à nous, infirmiers, médecins, psychologues, assistants sociaux, de garder la tête hors de l'eau, lorsqu'il est question de ce qu'on appelle pompeusement "éthique".