Death and Medical Power by Henk ten Have, Jos Welie

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By Henk ten Have, Jos Welie

Since the Seventies, euthanasia has been a subject matter of continuous debate all over the world. This booklet provides a close description of the talk in addition to a serious research of the main salient features of euthanasia perform within the Netherlands. The authors argue that euthanasia could be understood inside of a ancient context as a protest opposed to clinical energy. The booklet explores a few of the arguments in regards to the Dutch “experiment” that are correct to different international locations at the moment contemplating laws during this area.

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15 The first remarkable finding is the diversity in definitions across nations and cultures. For example, the distinction between ‘active euthanasia’ and ‘passive euthanasia’ is rejected in the Netherlands but used in 16 European countries. Almost no country has defined ‘euthanasia’ in its code of law. Notable exceptions are Georgia, which in its 1997 Health Law explicitly prohibits euthanasia, and Belgium, which in its 2002 Law on Euthanasia explicitly permits it. It is not even clear what it means to ‘legalize’ euthanasia, for according to the survey euthanasia is legal only in Belgium (and assisted suicide in Estonia and Switzerland).

Although limited in its scope, Van Peursen’s discussion of the consequences of recent advances of medicine for the patient, the physician and the community, is a genuine novelty. It is also a sign that the very progress of medicine itself had caused the domain of medical ethics no longer to be the exclusive territory of physicians. Anthropological medicine The growing influence of philosophy in medicine is also apparent in a movement that was most important in Germany but quite influential in the Netherlands as well.

The values, norms and rules prevailing in social, cultural and religious traditions that function as external determinants of medicine (the ‘external morality’) are gradually gaining more weight and relevancy in medical ethics. The second change concerns the principle of respect for human life. Whereas this was implicit in the first edition, now it is made explicit. The basic task of the physician is to help a human being in need, especially when human existence itself is threatened. Hence, the primary duty of a physician is the fight to maintain the patient’s life.

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