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O'Neill, Onora. Questions of Life and Death
2008, The Lancet 372:1291-1292.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: In Easeful Death: Is There a Case for Assisted Dying? Mary and Elisabeth Macdonald set out with exemplary clarity reasons for prohibiting or permitting physicians to ‘help’ patients to die. Their arguments are cogent, illuminating, and in many ways convincing. Yet I find myself disagreeing with their conclusion that assisted dying should be made lawful, and will set out why.

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Steinbock, Bonnie. The case for physician assisted suicide: not (yet) proven
2005, Journal of Medical Ethics 31 (4):235-241.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: The legalisation of physician assisted suicide in Oregon and physician assisted death in the Netherlands has revitalised the debate over whether and under what conditions individuals should be able to determine the time and manner of their deaths, and whether they should be able to enlist the help of physicians in doing so. Although the change in the law is both dramatic and recent, the basic arguments for and against have not really changed since the issue was debated by Glanville Williams and Yale Kamisar nearly 50 years ago. In this paper, the author argues in favour of Kamisar’s consequentialist framework. Any change in law and social policy should not be based solely on individual cases, heart wrenching though these may be. Instead, we need to assess the need for PAS, and weigh this against the risks of mistake and abuse

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Thomson, Judith Jarvis. Physician-Assisted Suicide: Two Moral Arguments
1999, Ethics 109 (3):497-518.
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Added by: Simon Fokt

Introduction: What I will discuss are two of the moral arguments that have been put forward as reasons for objecting to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. They have been taken seriously by a great many people and have had a powerful impact on the state of American law in this area. I will argue that they are bad arguments. I should say at the outset, however, that even if these are bad arguments, there may be others that are better. Many people oppose the legalizing of physician-assisted suicide on the ground that (as they think) there is no way of constraining the practice so as to provide adequate protections for the poor and the weak. They may be right, and if they are, then all bets are off. Alternatively, they may be wrong. I will simply bypass this issue.

Comment: The two arguments focus on the distinction between killing and letting die, and the doctrine of double effect. The arguments offered are central to the discussion on the moral permissibility of euthanasia and assisted suicide, which makes this text very useful in teaching applied ethics. It can be also useful in more general teaching on the doctrine of double effect.

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