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    Rehmann-Sutter, Christoph and Hagger, Lynn 2013. Organised Assistance to Suicide in England?. Health Care Analysis, Vol. 21, Issue. 2, p. 85.

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  • Print publication year: 1998
  • Online publication date: August 2014

4 - Public Policy and Physician-Assisted Suidde

Summary

You should not act justly now for fear of raising expectations that you may act still more justly in the future.

Let us assume that we can find a plausible case for the view that it is permissible for medical care givers, under certain conditions, either to provide their patients with the means and/or information so that they can take their own lives, or to themselves kill their patients. Let us also suppose that, under certain conditions, care givers ought to provide such assistance in dying. We may think that this “ought,” while it grounds a claim, does not take the form of a right.

Having established this much still does not settle a number of different issues concerning public policy, questions such as: Should the law recognize such a right? Should the institutions of medical practice, such as hospitals, have rules that require action in accordance with such a right? Should the codes of the medical profession include such rules? Ought the profession sanction professionals who violate such claims? This class of questions is one about institutionalizing a right to die.

In general, the establishment of some moral claim or right is at most a necessary condition for the establishment of such an institutional right. That such claims are not sufficient is clear from the fact that although it is quite wrong of us to lie to you about many things, it is not illegal to do so (except for special cases such as commercial fraud).

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Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide
  • Online ISBN: 9781139878357
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139878357
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