Thursday, November 13, 2008

Euthanasia #6 - closure

When I first started on this thread I really had no idea where I was heading. Can't really say I had thought about it much. Working through this issue has been somewhat unsettling, I have to admit. I don't think I have 'arrived' at all the least I don't think I can come up with a definitive statement to make about it. I don't think I can persuade anyone to my point of view either, nor do I want to.

It seems to me however that an approach based on either ideology or on some sort of theoretical morality does not work. I can understand where these would be coming from, but it seems pretty inadequate to make sweeping applications of these principles to euthanasia.

It is very clear to me that when applied correctly, euthanasia cannot be equated with suicide (as commonly understood). Neither can it be considered murder (which implies some malintent). Euthanasia, as correctly intended, is both rational and motivated by care and concern for the patient.

The real problem in euthanasia is in its implementation. The fear in peoples' minds, and that which probably underlie most objections, is that no matter how well-intended, the process can go out of control. People fear the creeping extensions of justifications for euthanasia. I can well understand these fears. Euthanasia can easily be the wedge edge that leads to exterminations of the sick and defenseless in society. But such fears cannot be the reason for denying relief to the suffering. It is good to remember that action and inaction are two faces of the same coin. The humanity in us compels us to preserve well as to palliate suffering. Sometimes these are incompatible. To preserve life we have to deny real palliation. Therein lies the dilemma with respect to the provision of a 'good death'.

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