Euthanasia: moral paradoxes

ten Have, H.
November 2001
Palliative Medicine;Nov2001, Vol. 15 Issue 6, p505
Academic Journal
Over the past 30 years, euthanasia has been under continuous debate in the Netherlands. This contribution aims to provide a moral assessment of this debate. It is argued that euthanasia should be understood within a historical context, as a protest against medical power and as a way to bring about good death. Within the euthanasia debate, two paradoxes are identified which make the issue inherently complex and hard to regulate. The first paradox results from the dialectical relation between individual autonomy and relief of suffering as the major justifications of euthanasia. Although euthanasia represents an ultimate effort to give the individual patient control over his dying, the result of the debate is an increase of medical power. The second paradox is that although euthanasia emerged from a commitment to good death, it is resulting in a reduced range of options to bring about good death.


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