Is euthanasia morally acceptable

Euthanasia: Emphasizing moral competence more

SPECTRUM: Letters to the editor

On the article "No right to kill" by Dr. med. Thomas Fuchs and Prof. Dr. med. Hans Lauter in volume 5/1997
The title refers to two things: there is no right for doctors to kill; and patients have no right to be killed. Attempts to establish a right to be killed are warned against, because "the right of one becomes the obligation of another to comply with it". This "duty to kill" does not seem to me to follow inevitably. A legal obligation cannot be seriously considered, and a moral obligation presupposes the individual moral judgment of the doctor. The authors write: "Therefore, the will of the patient cannot relieve the doctor of the independent assessment and decision to kill. In order to be able to take responsibility for it, he himself must come to the judgment that this life is not better should'." But the responsibility for a moral judgment about the specific person with a desire to kill requires a further, prior decision: the fundamental question of whether killing is at all morally acceptable as an act for the doctor concerned. We are not just "helpers of the patient's will", as the authors rightly point out. No one will make such a fundamental decision of conscience easy. It precedes the weighing up of the individual case, but will also be repeatedly called into question by the individual fate. For the pending opinion-forming process, however, we must not only orientate ourselves on the public, societal discussion. Rather, one of the central tasks in medical studies should be to prepare for these decisions. The period in which socialization based on images of people and medical behavior takes place must be used more than before in order to learn and also to practice moral weighing. Awareness should be created at an early stage that there are alternative courses of action and decision-making options - not only on the subject of active euthanasia - which can be perceived, but which at the same time entail an obligation to make a conscientious decision. And I am convinced that killings by doctors will be limited to a few, extreme and well-founded exceptions if the moral competence of doctors is again emphasized more clearly. Ultimately, this individual assumption of responsibility for one's own decision will shape the way we deal with dying people. The arguments of Fuchs and Lauter will play an important role in this individual decision. The fact that ethical decision-making processes generally move back to the center of medicine is a task especially for the medical faculties and the upcoming licensing regulations.
Dr. Gerald Neitzke, Department of Medical History, Ethics and Theory Development in Medicine, MHH, 30623 Hanover
Euthanasia: Emphasize moral competence more

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