Arguments for and against euthanasia and assisted suicide There are arguments both for and against euthanasia and assisted suicide. Some of the main arguments are outlined below. You should be aware that these arguments do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of NHS Choices or the Department of Health. Arguments for euthanasia and assisted suicide
There are two main types of argument used to support the practices of euthanasia and assisted suicide. They are the: ethical argument – that people should have freedom of choice, including the right to control their own body and life (as long as they do not abuse any other person’s rights), and that the state should not create laws that prevent people being able to choose when and how they die pragmatic argument – that euthanasia, particularly passive euthanasia, is already a widespread practice (allegedly), just not one that people are willing to admit to, so it is better to regulate euthanasia properly The pragmatic argument is discussed in more detail below.
The pragmatic argument states that many of the practices used in end of life care are a type of euthanasia in all but name. For example, there is the practice of making a ‘do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation' (DNACPR) order, where a person requests not to receive treatment if their heart stops beating or they stop breathing. Critics have argued that DNACPR is a type of passive euthanasia because a person is denied treatment that could potentially save their life. Another controversial practice is known as palliative sedation. This is where a person who is experiencing extreme suffering, for which there is no effective treatment, is put to sleep using sedative medication. For example, palliative sedation is often used to treat burns victims who are expected to die. While palliative sedation is not directly carried out for the purpose of ending lives, many of the sedatives used carry a risk of shortening a person’s...
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