Critically consider the ethical and legal arguments for and against euthanasia

Topics: Euthanasia, Death, Medical ethics Pages: 7 (2423 words) Published: November 23, 2013


Table of Statutes
Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act [2003]
Human Rights Act [1998]
Proposed Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill
Suicide Act [1961]

Table of Cases

Airedale NHS Trust v Bland [1993] AC 789
Fleming v Ireland [2013] 1 ECHR 2
Haas v Switzerland [2011] 35 EHRR 33
Heaney v Ireland [1994] 3 IR 593
Pretty v United Kingdom [2002] 35 EHRR 1
R v Cox [1992] B.M.L.R 38
R (on the application of Lamb) v Ministry of Justice [2013] EWCA Civ 466 R (on the application of Nicklinson) v Ministry of Justice [2012] H.R.L.R 32 R (on the application of Purdy) v DPP [2009] UKHL 44

Over the past decade the issue of euthanasia has gained vast support on both of the opposing sides, it continues to be one of the most controversial issues in modern day Britain. The most common form of euthanasia is assisted suicide in which someone suffering from a terminal illness such as multiple sclerosis would ask a family member to aid them in ending their life by whatever means necessary. The general view of euthanasia is the as straight forward as flicking a switch and should be legal based on that juvenile belief. In reality euthanasia can be dissected to reveal an array of tiers in which the simple action is not as clear-cut as it is portrayed. These tiers take the forms of passive, active, voluntary and involuntary. The view is those that oppose euthanasia is based largely on the belief in palliative care and religious reasoning, in which life is portrayed as a gift from god and ending life prematurely is fundamentally wrong. These opposing views are ethical and frequently changing and adapting based largely on public opinion conversely the views of the law is constant and until recently was never questioned yet since the introduction of the European Courts of Human Rights into Britain there has been more and more demand for reform to allow for euthanasia under certain circumstances. It is essential that both sides of the debate surrounding euthanasia are analysed. To begin with it is vital to evaluate the ethnical opinions regarding supporters of euthanasia. In the eyes of the supporters of euthanasia there are a number of reasons to support their theory of euthanasia. The central argument that is used to support the practices of euthanasia is the right of freedom of choice. The person has the right to control their own life and their body as long as it does not infringe any other person’s rights. Death is an intimate matter which does not concern the state as no harm is caused by a person’s death therefore a state should not be able to pass laws that prevent people making that choice. For example someone suffering from a terminal illness which would rob them off their dignity and ultimately their life, should be able to make the decision of how they die when they are of sane mind however as it is illegal in the United Kingdom assisted suicide (voluntary euthanasia) would have to be carried out in either Switzerland or Holland where it is legal however on the return journey the party that occupied the sufferer would be prosecuted under Scots law for carrying out culpable homicide. The case of Airedale NHS Trust v Bland1, in which doctors treating a patient suffering PVS (permanent vegetative state) obtained declaration that it was lawful to withdraw treatment thus resulting in the patient’s death. It was held to be in the patient’s best interests as there was no prospect of improvement. This case led to a substantial number of articles regarding euthanasia, what shape to euthanasia after Bland?2And a right to die.3 A significant case in which voluntary euthanasia is demonstrated is that of R v Cox4 in which Dr Cox surrendered to the pleas of his patient to relieve her of the debilitating pain she was suffering. The case has all the elements of murder case the intent to cause death, the action prior to death and the lack of defence that the substance administered to the patient was...
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