Euthanasia in England: Courts, Committees and Consistency
Medicine and Law: World Association for Medical Law 1997; 16(4): 805-811
Part I of this paper considers three competing ethical approaches to the valuation of human life: "Vitalism', 'Inviolability', and 'Worth'. Part II argues that, largely as a result of the case of Airedale NHS Trust v Bland, English law relating to 'euthanasia' (the intentional shortening of a patient's life, by act or omission, as part of his/her medical care) is in a morally and intellectually inconsistent state, incorporating Inviolability by prohibiting doctors from intentionally killing patients by an act but adopting Worth by permitting them intentionally to kill certain patients by omission. Part III maintains that the recent Report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics missed an opportunity to recommend the resolution of this inconsistency.
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