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Active and Passive Euthanasia The objective of Rachels article Active and Passive Euthanasia is to have physicians question the distinction between active and passive euthanasia in relation to moral issues He suggests that physicians should not allow the question of morality to affect their judgment when establishing medical policies and guidelines in respect to euthanasia concerns He uses three very descriptive examples to support his arguments which raises the issue that the difference between active and passive euthanasia is morally irrelevant A brief definition of the terms in simple words Rachels defines passive euthanasia as letting die and active euthanasia as killing Rachels argues that the distinction between the two forms of euthanasia is not always clear or even relevant The first example that Rachels uses is about a physician who at the request of the patient and his family withholds treatment for an incurable cancer of the throat He suggests that since death will occur within days the most humanitarian option is to terminate the patients suffering through active euthanasia The active choice can then be viewed as morally superior in that the patient need not suffer in agony especially when taking into consideration the end result will be death in any case The physician is faced with 2 duties the obligation to honor the clearly expressed wishes of the patient or to protect the patients wellbeing then prolonging his suffering may not be in the patients best interests Even though the end result is the same the physician has to determine the rightness of each duty In support of his argument that the distinction between active and passive euthanasia is not always clear Rachels presents a second example a case of a Down syndrome child requiring surgery for an intestinal obstruction A decision is made to withhold surgery and the child is allowed to die by means of dehydration Rachels describes the surgeon watching the
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