Euthanasia: The Moral Issues

By Robert M. Baird; Stuart E. Rosenbaum | Go to book overview

3
Doctors Must Not Kill

Willard Gaylin, Leon R. Kass,
Edmund D. Pellegrino, and Mark Siegler

In the middle of the night, a sleepy gynecology resident is called to attend a young woman, dying of cancer, whom he has never seen before. Horrified by her severe distress, and proceeding alone without consultation with anyone, he gives her a lethal injection of morphine, clearly intending the death that promptly ensues. The resident submits a first-person account of his killing to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Without any editorial comment, JAMA publishes the account, withholding the author's name at his request. What in the world is going on?

Before the sophisticated obscure our vision with clouds of arguments and subtle qualifications, we must fix our gaze on the brute facts.

First, on his own admission, the resident appears to have committed a felony: premeditated murder. Direct intentional homicide is a felony in all American jurisdictions, for which the plea of merciful motive is no excuse. That the homicide was clearly intentional is confirmed by the resident's act of unrepentant publication.

Second, law aside, the physician behaved altogether in a scan

____________________
From the Journal of the American Medical Association 259, no. 14 ( April 8, 1988): 2139-2140. Copyright 1988, American Medical Association.

-25-

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