Pediatric Euthanasia: The End of Life as an End in Itself?
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The practice of medicine is rife with ethically challenging situations. Two areas of medicine particularly lend themselves to this type of challenge: (a) pediatrics, which abounds with concerns regarding autonomy and (b) end-of-life care, which must address how to best provide healthcare for a patient nearing death. This thesis will apply principles of deontological ethics to the amalgamation of these two difficult situations – euthanasia in children old enough to understand this type of decision, but perhaps too young to make such a choice without external influence. This topic will be discussed from the perspective of conflicting sources of good will among those most involved in such a situation. The people directly concerned in the case of a child’s potential euthanasia may have different perceived moral duties. Kant asserts, “There is no possibility of thinking of anything at all in the world, or even out of it, which can be regarded as good without qualification, except a good will.” A pediatric patient, his legal guardians, and his physician may have seemingly irreconcilable opinions and motivations. The child may feel like he is a burden to his family and that he has a duty to die. The physician might believe, as does the American Medical Association, that euthanasia violates the natural goals of humanity and will negatively affect the quality of healthcare. Lastly, the parents could feel an obligation to end the pain and suffering of their child. This thesis will present a model suggesting how to account for these different perspectives, analyze the potential perspectives of each of these parties independently, and discuss whether these motivations stem from good will.
Kaplan, Holland Manon (2013). Pediatric Euthanasia: The End of Life as an End in Itself?. Honors and Undergraduate Research. Available electronically from