Cavanaugh, Thomas A.
Bioethics. 1997 Jul-Oct; 11(3-4): 291-297.
In contemporary ethical discourse generally, and in discussions concerning the legalization of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) and voluntary active euthanasia (VAE) specifically, recourse is sometimes had to the Nazi! accusation. Some disputants charge that such practices are or will become equivalent to the Nazi 'euthanasia' program in which over 73,000 handicapped children and adults were killed without consent. This paper reflects on the circumstances that lead to the use of this charge and offers reasons for putting the Nazi! charge aside in contemporary discussions of PAS and VAE. A number of the philosophical presuppositions common to both the Nazi 'euthanasia' program and the currently proposed practices of PAS and VAE are examined. Noting that racist ideology and violent coercion characterized the Nazi program, the paper concludes with a cautionary consideration of the current circumstances that would specify PAS and VAE in the US.
Active Euthanasia; Adults; Assisted Suicide; Attitudes; Autonomy; Children; Coercion; Consent; Decision Making; Economics; Emotions; Eugenics; Euthanasia; Health; Health Care; Health Care Delivery; Informal Social Control; Involuntary Euthanasia; Killing; Life; National Socialism; Physicians; Quality of Life; Social Control; Socialism; Suicide; Voluntary Euthanasia; Wedge Argument;
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