Chapter

Going Early, Going Late

Margaret Pabst Battin

in Ending Life

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780195140279
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199850280 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195140279.003.0004
Going Early, Going Late

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Vigorous, often vitriolic debate over active euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in terminal illness has occupied both the public and the medical profession in many countries in recent years. Comparatively little public and professional discussion, however, has focused on AIDS. Social and legal conditions relevant in decision-making vary widely among illnesses: in some places — the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Oregon, for example — assisted or physician-assisted suicide is legal, so that patients can openly discuss their choices with their physicians and also in the presence of family and friends, something much riskier in other places. If assistance in suicide is provided, it should protect as much as possible the rationality of the patient's choice. This chapter provides an analysis of what is called the “rational structure” of the choice faced by a person contemplating the possibility of suicide — what components it has, in what order they occur, and what types of problems can be addressed. It shows that it is possible to explore the rationality of end-of-life choices.

Keywords: AIDS; euthanasia; physician-assisted suicide; decision-making; rationality; suicide; end-of-life choices

Chapter.  11079 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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