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Medical Ethics: 27 April. Intended vs. extraordinary meansWe covered most of these points today. I think we were a little short on the last one, however.
Here are two objections to Sullivan's attacks on Rachels.
1. Ceasing treatment in the cancer case isn't really a satisfactory alternative: the patient still has to suffer a tremendous amount of pain. Permitting active euthanasia/killing a patient would relieve this suffering. Why not do so, Rachels will ask?
Of course, the availability of palliative care will help many patients; Sullivan would insist that we use pain killers as far as possible.
2. Is ending treatment in the cancer case really different from giving the patient a fatal dose of morphine, as far as the doctor's intentions are concerned?
In both cases, the doctors are concerned with alleviating the patient's suffering. In both cases, the doctors know that what they do will hasten the patient's death. Couldn't Rachels say that all that is going on here is that there are different means to achieve the same end: alleviating pain?
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