David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Medical Ethics 33 (4):187 (2007)
Slow euthanasia or a good palliative intervention?There are many ways in which doctors influence the circumstances and/or the timing of a patient’s death. Some of these are accepted as normal medical practice—for instance, when a disproportional treatment is forgone, others are considered tolerable only under strict conditions or even intolerable, such as non-voluntary active euthanasia. A relatively new phenomenon in the ethical discussion on end-of-life decisions is terminal sedation. Terminal sedation is used in patients with terminal illnesses where normal medical treatments cannot relieve severe symptoms such as pain and agitation, and no option is left but to take away the perception of these symptoms. Often, the decision to start terminal sedation is accompanied by the decision to forgo the provision of artificial nutrition and hydration in these patients. In The Netherlands, terminal sedation was estimated to be applied in 4–10% of all deaths in 2001.1 The combination of these two decisions have made the moral status of terminal sedation the subject of fierce ethical debates. Is it slow euthanasia2,3 or is it a good palliative intervention that should be sharply distinguished from euthanasia?4,5 One of the characteristics of this debate is that it is a very confused one: people disagree about the meaning of the term, the appropriateness of it and, of course, about the conditions under which it would be morally justified. As a matter of fact, these three discussions are deeply connected: as is often the case, a discussion about terms is a discussion about norms in disguise.The first observation to be made is that many seemingly descriptive definitions of terminal sedation contain normative claims. Examples of this are definitions of terminal sedation in which only …
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Citations of this work BETA
Charles Douglas, Ian Kerridge & Rachel Ankeny (2008). Managing Intentions: The End-of-Life Administration of Analgesics and Sedatives, and the Possibility of Slow Euthanasia. Bioethics 22 (7):388-396.
Sam Rys, Reginald Deschepper, Freddy Mortier, Luc Deliens, Douglas Atkinson & Johan Bilsen (2012). The Moral Difference or Equivalence Between Continuous Sedation Until Death and Physician-Assisted Death: Word Games or War Games? [REVIEW] Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 9 (2):171-183.
L. A. Jansen (2010). Disambiguating Clinical Intentions: The Ethics of Palliative Sedation. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 35 (1):19-31.
Sophie Bruinsma, Judith Rietjens, Siebe Swart, Roberto Perez & Johannes van Delden (2014). Estimating the Potential Life-Shortening Effect of Continuous Sedation Until Death: A Comparison Between Two Approaches. Journal of Medical Ethics 40 (7):458-462.
Jeffrey Kirby (2010). Accessing the Ethics of Complex Health Care Practices: Would a “Domains of Ethics Analysis” Approach Help? [REVIEW] HEC Forum 22 (2):133-143.
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