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Morality of Euthanasia

Moral Controversy

The moral controversy discussed is the moral justification of the use of euthanasia; active and passive. Which is more morally justified or are they at par in terms of morality? Active euthanasia is the deliberate action of giving patients lethal drugs in an attempt to end their lives while passive euthanasia is the stopping of treatment for patients if it will lead to death. Passive euthanasia differs from active euthanasia as it does not directly cause the death of the patient. The disease affecting the patient is the direct cause of death. The controversy can be described using two ideologies; the consequentialist and non-consequentialist ideologies. Consequentialist ideology utilizes the utilitarianism theory of morality which advocates actions that foster happiness and increases the amount of good. Consequentialists propose that if death is the best possible outcome, active or passive euthanasia can be used. Non-consequentialist ideology indicates there exists a difference between active and passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia is morally wrong and passive euthanasia is acceptable.

Gay-Williams Arguments

The author views the idea of euthanasia as wrong as it has been corrupted by the conclusion of benevolence, to do good always. The author describes three aspects of euthanasia; the first aspect involves the taking of life either your own or another person’s life, the second aspect ensures that the patient is suffering from an incurable disease and the third aspect involves the deliberate and intentional act of wanting to die (MacKinnon and Fiala, 2018). The author thus opposes the idea that withholding treatment for a patient leading to death is also a form of euthanasia as it does not comply with the conditions set for euthanasia. In the case that a patient succumbs, the failure to continue or start treatment aimed at suppressing an ailment is not the cause of the death. The cause of death is the diseases itself thus implying the person did not take his or her life. Death is also not intended and deliberate instead is an unintended consequence of the action but not the main aim of the act.

The author’s arguments from nature imply that the instinct of human beings is survival thus euthanasia contradicts this universal goal. The natural inclination to continue living is shown by way of behavioral patterns and body organization such as antibodies fighting bacteria. Euthanasia violates this code of survival by eliminating the goal of survival. Euthanasia also degrades our dignity by way of eliminating the sole goal of survival incorporated in our reasoning of nature. The arguments from a self-interest perceptive view euthanasia as allowing patients to act in favor of their self-destruction. The author argues that contemporary medicine though has achieved high standards of excellence and accomplishments, may be subject to providing wrong information regarding prognosis and diagnosis. The terminally ill patients may have their prognosis wrong and miraculously recover or get relief from experimental procedures. The author argues that patients seek euthanasia as a way to escape the harsh reality of fighting for one’s life thus are coerced by their situations. The author’s argument from practical effects implies that euthanasia would lead to the detriment of quality healthcare (MacKinnon and Fiala, 2018). The argument is that doctors would not try hard enough to save the lives of patients due to the availability of euthanasia options. The author remarks that euthanasia is a slippery slope that can lead to involuntary euthanasia, that is, murder primarily due to the powers of attorney accorded to close friends to authorize euthanasia in case of incapacitation.

Rachels Arguments

The author argues in favor of euthanasia but specifies that there is no moral difference between active and passive euthanasia except where there is the consideration of consequences. In such cases, active euthanasia reigns supreme. The views of the author are contrary to the American Medical Association doctrine where passive euthanasia is permissible but active euthanasia is condemned. The doctrine shuns active euthanasia as it involves the intentional termination of life. The author argues that the doctrine further implies that cessation of treatment is not considered as intentional termination of life which is wrong since the consequence remains constant as the result is the termination of life (MacKinnon and Fiala, 2018). The argument brought forth is that by way of ceasing to continue or starting the treatment process, the doctor has done nothing that may lead to the death of the patient. The cause of death in this instance is the ailment that affects the patient. Active euthanasia involves the doctor performing acts that lead to the death of the patient. The author, however, argues that this reasoning is corrupted as there is an action done. The assumption is that the action he does is by not acting. The action a doctor does is by letting the patient die.

The author shuns the idea that active euthanasia is morally worse than passive euthanasia. The idea that terminating life intentionally is grosser than letting a person die is nonexistent in terms of the moral appraisal. The medical doctrine states that where the life of a person is a burden, the doctor through consultations can let the patient die by way of withdrawing the medication. However, in cases where the cessation of treatment leads to more suffering active euthanasia is the most viable option as the aim is to lessen the pain by way of not prolonging life. However, passive euthanasia may be slow and painful whereas active euthanasia is painless and fast and should be recommended. The author argues that intentional death is considered gross as death is perceived as a great evil. However, if the terms dictate that the greater evil is continued existence, then the normal suggestions that restrict someone from being the cause of death do not apply and euthanasia is permissible.

Most and Least Persuasive View

Rachels’s argument is the most persuasive perceptive in terms of objectivity. This view regards euthanasia as acceptable but refutes the idea of moral differences between active and passive euthanasia. Where a patient is terminally ill and the reasonable course of action to reduce prolonged pain is death, the option of euthanasia should be considered (MacKinnon and Fiala, 2018). The type of euthanasia chosen should produce the least amount of pain as the aim is to reduce suffering. His arguments are in line with the AMA doctrine that allows passive euthanasia but critiques the moral appraisal compared to active euthanasia. He argues that in both, death is a result of an action done thus there is no ground for moral differentiation since the consequence is death. Both actions lead to death thus there can be no measure in terms of morality with the result being similar.

Gay –Williams’s perceptive of the issue is the least persuasive as his arguments against euthanasia are unfounded. He claims that euthanasia is wrong as it violates the goal of survival. However, the goal of survival can be hindered by natural forces such as terminal diseases where the outcome is prolonged suffering and ultimately death. The natural goal of survival in this case can be considered the greater evil compared to death. The action not done is the action itself which ultimately will play a role in the death thus validating passive euthanasia. His argument on self-interest hinges on the malfunction of medical, miracles, and untried experiments but fails to take into account the percentage of the wrong prognosis which is small similar to that of recovery in terminally ill patients. The author believes that doctors will be corrupted by the usage of euthanasia in terminally ill patients and may use it on less seriously ill patients. The sacred code of doctors, the Hippocratic oath, states that doctors should do no harm and it is their responsibility to care for others thus invalidating the argument.

Strongest and Weakest Points

Rachels’s strongest point regards the morality of active euthanasia compared to passive euthanasia. His argument that death as the result can be a kindness validates the use of euthanasia. The means used, however, should not be compared morally as the target is similar. His weakest point is the relevancy of decisions made concerning euthanasia in infants. According to this ideology, there is a lesser evil in different terminal diseases. Gay-Williams strongest sentiments reflect the evils of unregulated euthanasia which can be viewed in the context of murder cases. The policy governing euthanasia should set guidelines on the use of the procedure. His weakest points are discrediting science and dignity in death. He argues that euthanasia should be discouraged by giving hope to the patients and discrediting modern medicine. The author’s view is that euthanasia is an undignified death but fails to take into account the indignity in living a painful, miserable life.


Euthanasia is morally appropriate in cases where death acts as the greater good of the patient overshadowing the instinct to live. This is where prolonged life may be ridden with pain and suffering and death is imminent. The patient can choose to engage in euthanasia. The patient can choose either cessation of treatment or lethal injection with the recommended means being that which ensures the least pain in conjunction with the no maleficence principle. The arguments against euthanasia do not reflect the greater good of the patient as they advocate for prolonged pain. I believe that terminally ill patients should be provided euthanasia services when the situation suggests it is the best solution. Death is inevitable thus such patients should be allowed the choice of terminating their lives in respect of the autonomy principle. I believe that the AMA doctrine should be altered to remove bias in the moral condemnation of active euthanasia in favor of passive as the end justifies the means.

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Morality of Euthanasia . (2021, December 17). Essay Writing . Retrieved March 30, 2023, from https://www.essay-writing.com/samples/morality-of-euthanasia/
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Morality of Euthanasia . [online]. Available at: <https://www.essay-writing.com/samples/morality-of-euthanasia/> [Accessed 30 Mar. 2023].
Morality of Euthanasia [Internet]. Essay Writing . 2021 Dec 17 [cited 2023 Mar 30]. Available from: https://www.essay-writing.com/samples/morality-of-euthanasia/
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