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Copyright (c) 2011 Nat'l Legal Center for Medically Dependent & Disabled, Inc.
Issues in Law & Medicine

VERBATIM: Other People's Lives: Reflections on Medicine, Ethics, and Euthanasia

Spring, 2011

Issues In Law & Medicine

26 Issues L. & Med. 239


Richard Fenigsen, M.D., Ph.D. *


Part Two: Medicine Versus Euthanasia

Chapter XXI. The Philosophy of Euthanasia

"Use logic to overcome the scruple." 245

Francois Mauriac

The advocates of physician-assisted suicide, or voluntary euthanasia, present the following argument:

. Hopelessly ill people who in the end will have to die in unbearable pain, wish to be freed from a life that has become a burden to them. They should not be compelled against their will to endure their meaningless suffering. Medical progress can now extend the lives of the gravely ill; in doing so, the doctors are guided by technical considerations, without regard for the human aspect of such interventions. As a result, people are condemned to an unbearable life and to a death unworthy of human beings.

. Another important factor is the aging of the population, the prevalence of disabling infirmities inherent in old age, and the proliferation of nursing homes and institutions for chronically ill residents, who are cut off from their families, isolated from the rest of society, and who have lost faith in the meaning of their lives.

. And let's not forget the terrible scourge of Alzheimer's disease. "Do any of us want to end out lives with the paralyzing fear and anxiety and the complete loss of one's mental faculties? Do any of us want our spouse to spend ten long, lonely years after losing all real contact with a lifetime partner?" asks a proponent of death by own choice. 246

. Like every ...
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