Euthanasia: can be part of good terminal careBMJ 1994; 308 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.308.6945.1656 (Published 25 June 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:1656
- A P M Heintz
It makes no sense to discuss euthanasia in terms of being for or against it. The basic question is whether we accept the right of human beings to decide for themselves how their lives will end.
The backbone of ethics is respect for human life, and many doctors have interpreted their duty as being to keep patients alive at all costs and for as long as possible. Patients are sometimes treated even when the chances of success are slight, which the recent explosion in medical knowledge has made more likely.1
The request for euthanasia is in many respects a response to this. People now understand that treatment can lengthen not only life but also the suffering that may accompany treatment. They have a choice where once they had none: they can opt for treatment or, if they find …