Euthanasia: Annotated Bibliography

Batlle, J. C. “Legal Status of Physician-Assisted Suicide.” Journal of American Medicine. 278.19, September 29, 2003.

The author of the article, Juan Carlos Battle, focuses on the problem of the current legal status of euthanasia and the public perception of this problem. To put it more precisely, the author analyzes the current attitude of the public to euthanasia and attempts to evaluate it. As a result, he finds out that the concept of euthanasia is often misinterpreted by the mass audience. As a rule, people do not really understand the essence of euthanasia or, what is even more often, they cannot clearly distinguish the basic features typical to euthanasia and similar end-to-life issues, including physician-assisted suicide and withdrawal of life support. Battle agrees that the public often misinterprets these problems and often cannot distinguish them one from another. At the same time, he underlines that the existing problem and misconception of euthanasia is basically determined by the existing ambiguities in the way modern society interprets legal and ethical behavior of end-to-life matters. In such a way, the author views the problem not only from a purely legal point of view, which though dominates in the article, but also from ethical point of view as well. This article will be particularly important for the essay focused on the problem of euthanasia since it provides ample information on the concept of euthanasia, its proper interpretation and current legal status. What is more important, the article provides several court cases analysis which contributes to better understanding of physicians rights and obligations. Finally, the article may be important for the current perception of euthanasia by the public.

Bernat, J. L., Gert, G. and R. P. Mogielnicki. “Patient Refusal of Hydration and Nutrition: An Alternative to Physician-Assisted Suicide or Voluntary Active Euthanasia.” In Biomedical Ethics. Thomas A. Mappes and David DeGrazia, eds. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2001, p.436-442.

The authors of the article discuss the problem of patient refusal of hydration and nutrition, which they view as a possible alternative to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Basically, they stand on the ground that the current discussions concerning the necessity of implementing a new law concerning the legal status of euthanasia are not really needed. In fact, they argue that there is actually no real need in such a law because a rational and competent patient may simply refuse from nutrition and hydration if he/she does want to end his/her life. In such a way, the ethical as well as legal problem of euthanasia, according to the authors, naturally disappears. In fact, the refusal from nutrition and hydration is a real alternative that can be practically realized by a patient instead of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. The authors underline that health care professionals should grant a patient’s request for refusal of treatment necessary to sustain life and, what is more, they indicate to physicians’ moral and legal duty to honor patient’s requests. Obviously, the authors are quite skeptical about the current arguments about euthanasia and they attempt to critically evaluate this problem. This is why they use a intentionally scientific tone attempting to make their arguments even more convincing. In fact, this book at large, and the article discussed in particular are very important for the essay concerning the problem of euthanasia since it represents a different view on the problem of euthanasia. To put it more precisely, unlike many other specialists and public at large, the authors argue that the current legislation is not so bad or, at any rate, it does not really need changes that means the authors suggest a new legal and ethical view on euthanasia and its effects since they attempt to prove that there are other alternative ways for the patients to end life.

Brock, D. W. “A Critique of Three Objections to Physician-Assisted Suicide.” Ethics. 109 (1999): 519-547.

The author focuses on the major objectives to physician-assisted suicide. In fact, the author supports euthanasia and argues that the three objections he discusses in the article are not convincing. Namely, the author argues that the unethical termination of life support is actually the right of a patient’s to remove life support, secondly death is hasted but not intended, finally, he rejects the idea that euthanasia is abusive. This article is useful for the essay since it provides arguments defeating the major ethical objectives to euthanasia.

Brody, H. “Regulating Physician-Assisted Death.” In Biomedical Ethics. Thomas A. Mappes and David DeGrazia,( eds.). Boston: McGraw Hill, 2001. 424-429.

The author of the article underlines the necessity of the regulation of euthanasia. Basically, the author warns that the legalization and implementation of euthanasia should be thoroughly regulated and cannot be implemented without taking into consideration ethical issues. The article is important for the analysis of euthanasia in ethical context and provides noteworthy information concerning possible regulations of euthanasia.

Cassel, C. “Care of the Hopelessly Ill: Proposed Clinical Criteria For Physician-Assisted Suicide.” In Morality in Practice. James P. Sterba, (ed.). Boston: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2001. 421-424.

The author of the article critically compares and evaluate physician-assisted suicide, when the suicidal act is committed by a patient, and euthanasia, when the entire act is carried out by a physician. The major conclusion the author makes is the necessity of legalization of physician assisted suicide as more ethical alternative to euthanasia.

This article is useful for the essay because it provides arguments supporting the implementation of alternatives to euthanasia that helps better understand the essence and effects of euthanasia’s legalization.

Emanuel, E. J. “What is the Great Benefit of Legalizing Euthanasia of Physician-Assisted Suicide?” Ethics. 109.3 (1999): 629-642.

The author of the article, Ezekiel J. Emanuel, evaluates the possible effects of the legalization of euthanasia.

Basically, the author attempts to draw readers attention to the outcomes of the implementation of the law concerning euthanasia and its legalization. Emanuel underlines that the problem is actually much more serious than it may seem to be at first glance. To put it more precisely, the author admits that there are obvious positive effects of the implementation of euthanasia, such as the respect of patients’ autonomy, the reduction of unnecessary sufferings and pain, and psychological reassurance of the dying patient. In fact, these effects seem to be quite convincing to implement a new law legalizing euthanasia. At the same time, the author underlines that negative effects of such a step are often remain unnoticed, especially by the public. The author argues that negative effects of legalization of euthanasia may produce a profound impact not only on patients but on the entire health care system at large. For instance, the author states that legalization of euthanasia may undermine the integrity of the medical profession, provoke psychological anxiety of patients, this may lead to distress of patients as well as members of their families, apprehensions about the possible use of euthanasia without their will. In such a way, the author is quite convincing in his efforts to change the mind of supporters of legalizing euthanasia. This is why this article is a valuable source of information on possible effects of legalizing euthanasia in the current situation, including not only obvious positive effects but also revealing a number of hidden negative ones. This will help forecast the outcomes of legalization of euthanasia more objectively.

Kamm, F.M. “Physician-Assisted Suicide, the Doctrine of the Double Effect, and the Ground of Value.” Ethics 109.3 (1999): 586-605.

The author of the article stands for physician assisted suicide and euthanasia. He rejects the idea of the total domination of the right to life over all other rights of an individual to make independent choices, even though this lead to the death of a patient. The article is important for the essay since it provides a convincing four step argument in favor of euthanasia that may be used to define the pro-euthanasia position in the essay.

Lee, D. E. “Physician-assisted suicide: A Conservative Critique of Intervention.” Hastings Center Report 33.1, 2003, p.17-19.

The author of the article, Daniel E. Lee, represents the position of opponents of legalization of euthanasia and basically the article represents a response to supporters of legalization of euthanasia. In fact, the author stands on the ground that physician-assisted suicide is unacceptable and should not be legalized. In response to the arguments in favor of euthanasia and its legislation, the author argues that, in case of legalization of euthanasia, physicians still need to inform patients amply about possible alternatives to such an end of their life and, what is more important, to enhance their psychological state and make them hope for some positive changes. On the other hand, it is necessary to underline that, unlike previously discussed articles, the article by Lee is deprived of a profound scientific analysis and, in fact, seems to be quite subjective. Also it is worth of noting that the author tends to appeal to religious arguments referring to God as the only “judge” that can decide whether the patient should live or die, ignoring the problem of patient’s autonomy. Consequently, conclusions made by the author are not very reliable. Nevertheless, this article is still quite noteworthy and may be used in the essay because it provides the view on legalization of euthanasia different from the dominating one. Namely, the article indicates to the possible opposition from the part of public which religious views may reject the idea of euthanasia.

McStay, R. “Terminal sedation: Palliative care for intractable pain, post Glucksburg and Quill.” American Journal of Law and Medicine. 29.1, 2003, p.45-76. Retrieved September 22, 2007 from <>.

The article by Rob McStay suggests another alternative to euthanasia. To put it more precisely, the author discusses the problem of terminal sedation and compares it to the problem of euthanasia. McStay underlines that often public as well as specialists believe that terminal sedation and euthanasia are, to a significant extent, similar. In contrast, the author, himself, on analyzing pros and contras of terminal sedation underlines that it is different from euthanasia and needs a different law focused specifically on terminal sedation. At the same time, he argues that the importance of the definition of the legal status of both euthanasia and terminal sedation is equally important.

Obviously, this article will be very helpful for the essay, even though it basically refers to the problem of terminal sedation, this may be viewed, firstly, as an alternative to euthanasia, and, secondly, it proves the fact that the problem of euthanasia is not actually unique and that there are other end-to-life issues which refer not only to the moral but also legal sphere. Potentially, it is possible to conclude that the existence of such problems as euthanasia and terminal sedation need a new, systematic approach to legalization and regulation of these problems.

Thomson, J.J. “Physician-Assisted Suicide: Two Moral Arguments.” Ethics 109.3 (1999): 497-518.

The author attempts to critically evaluate moral arguments against physician assisted suicide. In fact, the author rejects these moral arguments stating that they fail to consider the major moral issues ”“ intentions. The article may be useful since the arguments of the author may be equally applied to the moral arguments concerning euthanasia.

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