Assisted Suicide and Voluntary Euthanasia: Role Contradictions for Physicians
Clinical medicine (London, England) 2010 Aug; 10(4): 323-5
It is widely assumed by the general public that if assisted suicide (AS) or euthanasia (VE) were legalised doctors must be essentially involved in the whole process including prescribing the medication and (in euthanasia) administering it. This paper explores some reasons for this assumption and argues that it flatly contradicts what it means to be a doctor. The paper is thus not mainly concerned with the ethics of AS/VE but rather with the concept of a doctor that has evolved since the time of Hippocrates to current professional guidance reflected in healthcare law. The paper argues that the most common recent argument for AS/VE--that patients have a right to control when and how they die--in fact points to the involvement not of doctors but of legal agencies as decision makers plus technicians as agents.
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