Sunday, March 06, 2005

some medical ethics questions

Already feeling better after that little rant (see previous post).

Coming back to the euthanasia issue, I have some questions for you to toss about. Feel free to write in with your insights. I'll post them.

1. Do we have a moral obligation to prolong life if prolongation is possible?

2. Does the quality of the prolonged life figure at all in the decision to prolong it? E.g., is life in a vegetative state desirable on the off-chance that that state might someday be reversed? Oh, yes-- the abortion-related conundrum: does the issue of personhood figure into questions about vegetative states?

3. If we have such a moral obligation (to prolong life when possible), is it morally wrong for me to, say, sign a Do Not Resuscitate order or one of those "no heroic measures" writs?

4. (3) above seems to imply a very murky boundary between being left alone to die naturally and suicide. Your thoughts? What is the shape of that boundary?

5. Or to ask it more plainly: what is suicide? Does the term cover a choice to die naturally, i.e., without medical attempts to prolong life and/or deal with the problem?

6. What does all this mean for aging? Are we morally obligated to find ways to prolong the average human life expectancy?

I could think of more questions, but I have to take a shit.


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