A Problem for the Idea of Voluntary Euthanasia
Journal of Medical Ethics. 1999 Jun; 25(3): 242-244.
I question whether, in those cases where physician-assisted suicide is invoked to alleviate unbearable pain and suffering, there can be such a thing as voluntary euthanasia. The problem is that when a patient asks to die under such conditions there is good reason to think that the decision to die is compelled by the pain, and hence not freely chosen. Since the choice to die was not made freely it is inadvisable for physicians to act in accordance with it, for this may be contrary to the patient's genuine wishes. Thus, what were thought to be cases of voluntary euthanasia might actually be instances of involuntary euthanasia.
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