Opinion on the Ethical Aspects of Health Care of Patients at the End of Life
Medicine and Law: World Association for Medical Law 1999; 18(1): 1-11
Demographic evolution and scientific progress in the treatment of fatal diseases have brought about a large number of disabled old persons and of greatly dependent persons. Nowadays, the dying process of people in such conditions is slower, though irreversible, and it has created a new form of medical care known as palliative medicine. Seven situations of this kind are discussed, with the corresponding ethical appraisal of the possible medical decisions in each case. The opinion on this matter by the Portuguese National Council of Ethics for the Life Sciences, based on the initial report, is then reproduced. It is against euthanasia strictu sensu being legalised and no longer a criminal offence, recommending however the development of all forms of palliative medicine.
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