Euthanasia Euthanasia can be described as the bringing about the death of or it is the killing of an individual with the intention of bringing an end his or her suffering. There are two main types of euthanasia and these are passive euthanasia, which is practiced in the United States, and active euthanasia, which is considered illegal but it is still practiced by some physicians…
The American Medical Association holds that active euthanasia is impermissible due to its involving the intentional ending of human life by another human being and many contemporary philosophers have argued for and against this view discussing the moral permissibility of such an action and some of the most notable arguments come from James Rachels and Thomas Sullivan. Rachels states that a strong case can be made against the American Medical Association’s doctrine and his main point is that passive euthanasia is not always preferable to active euthanasia. He states that in some cases, there is simply no moral difference between active and passive euthanasia because they are morally equivalent at that time and that active euthanasia may actually be better than passive euthanasia. He says that once the decision has been made not to prolong the patient’s agony, active euthanasia would be preferable because the latter would lead to an unnecessary period of suffering. His most vivid example is the case of severe Down’s syndrome babies born with intestinal obstructions about whom he states that sometimes in such cases, the babies are allowed to die. Even though if this matter were considered deeply, we would find compelling moral grounds for preferring active euthanasia to passive euthanasia in the vastly greater degree of suffering involved in letting the baby die (Rachel pp.78-80). The doctrine that passive euthanasia is preferable to active euthanasia is challenged by Rachels who declares that it leads to decisions concerning life and death based on irrelevant grounds as to whether a person’s life should continue or not. He argues that ordinarily, an intestinal obstruction can be fixed and is not a life or death matter but in the case of a baby with Down’s syndrome who has an intestinal obstruction, the baby is allowed to die because of the Down’s syndrome and not the intestinal obstruction. The presence of the intestinal obstruction in the baby becomes irrelevant due to its having down’s syndrome and it is this argument which justifies allowing the prolonged suffering of the baby before it dies instead of fixing the intestinal obstruction which would relieve it of the pain. This justifies Rachels’ argument against the American Medical Association’s doctrine that this doctrine rests on a distinction between killing and letting die that itself has no moral importance because they both lead to the same end and the means of getting there is inconsequential (Rachel pp.78-80). Sullivan, on the other hand, states that Rachels’ interpretation of the American Medical Association’s doctrine is flawed and argues that Rachels’ interpretation that this doctrine draws a distinction between killing and letting die is misplaced and that in fact, it does not draw a distinction between intentionally killing and not intentionally killing. Despite his disagreement with Rachels on this matter, he agrees with Rachels that killing is not always worse than letting die. He states that it is true that if someone is trying to bring about the death of another, then it makes little difference from the moral point of view if his purpose is achieved by action or by malevolent emission. He further agrees with Rachels that passive euth ...
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