"Playing God" and the Removal of Life-Prolonging Therapy
Paris, John J.
Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. 1995 Aug; 20(4): 403-418.
"Playing God" is the charge frequently leveled when physicians and patients agree to withdraw life-sustaining medical treatments and let the patient die. The accusation rings hollow in the context of four hundred years of moral reflection on the duty of an individual to undergo medical treatments to preserve life. From the teachings of Soto and Banez in the 16th century through the President's Commission 1983 report 'Deciding to Forego Life-Sustaining Treatments' there is a clear and constant teaching that though life is sacred it is not an absolute and our moral duty to preserve it is limited and based on rational reflection. No patient need undergo any treatment or procedure that is "disproportionately" costly, burdensome, or painful. The assessment of whether to accept or reject a proposed treatment is in part subjective and belongs to the individual patient. The only remaining issue is how to make that judgment for those unable to speak for themselves.
Active Euthanasia; Allowing to Die; Consent; Ethics; Euthanasia; Extraordinary Treatment; Health; Killing; Legal Aspects; Life; Moral Obligations; Patients; Persistent Vegetative State; Physicians; Roman Catholic Ethics; Standards; Supreme Court Decisions; Theology; Third Party Consent; Treatment Refusal; Value of Life;
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