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Slide 1 - Abortion and Euthanasia Ethics, Respect, and Community ITESM, Campus Ciudad de Mexico 17 Oct. 2007 Mark Waymack, PhD Department of Philosophy Loyola University Chicago
Slide 2 - Ethically & Socially Divisive Issues Both have been disputed for centuries Both are the subject of intense, continued, sometimes violent, contemporary debate
Slide 3 - ppt slide no 3 content not found
Slide 4 - Abortion in the Ancient World Plato: appropriate in certain circumstances Aristotle: permissible prior to the higher soul develops The Hippocratic School: not to be performed by physicians (apparently because of harm to woman) Aquinas: a minor sin before ensoulment, homicide after ensoulment
Slide 5 - Abortion in the Modern World Widely performed (half of abortion world-wide are illegal) Most controversial is “elective abortion” (not necessary to save the woman’s life) Legalized in some U.S. states in the 1960’s Legalized by U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 Legalized by Ciudad de Mexico in 2007
Slide 6 - Abortion: The Main Argument Against Premise 1: It is wrong to kill an innocent person Premise 2: The fetus is an innocent person Conclusion: It is wrong to kill a fetus It is a question of moral respect for the basic human rights of the fetus
Slide 7 - The Moral Status of the Fetus The main argument thus presumes that the fetus is a person If the fetus is not a person, then the main argument collapses
Slide 8 - Fetus and Personhood Is the fetus a person? Aristotle & Aquinas: only once the soul has entered the fetus Contemporary Pro-Life Argument: At the moment of conception the embryo is a person
Slide 9 - Fetus & Personhood On What Grounds Would the Fetus Count as Person? DNA? Perception? Potentiality?
Slide 10 - Ordinary Moral Intuitions Many of our “ordinary” moral intuitions conflict with the idea that the fetus is a person from the moment of conception Abortion is often allowed in cases of rape or incest We do not legally name fetuses We do not have funerals for fetuses that result in miscarriage/spontaneous abortion
Slide 11 - Abortion Main Argument for Permissibility 1. The fetus is not a person 2. The fetus is a part of the woman’s body 3. Adults are said to have a moral and legal right to self-determination, a right to privacy Conclusion: 4. Therefore, it ought to be a woman’s moral right to choose
Slide 12 - Problems With The Permissibility Argument When does the fetus become a person? At birth? (Sounds arbitrary. What is the morally important difference between a 39-week fetus and a newly born baby?) Viability? Why consider viability? When is viability? 30 weeks? 23 weeks?
Slide 13 - Critique of Extreme Views The main arguments typically used both for and against abortion are problematic Conceptually weak Are in conflict with ordinary moral intuitions
Slide 14 - Euthanasia in the Ancient World Euthanasia Widely accepted in the Ancient World Greeks Romans (Includes infanticide for congenital defects and mercy killing of debilitated elderly who want to die) But Not Universally approved Hippocratic School
Slide 15 - Euthanasia in the Contemporary World Involuntary euthanasia used as part of the Nazi social experiment Other Countries Medical euthanasia tolerated by the Netherlands beginning in the 1970s Legalized in the Netherlands in 2003 Now legal also in Belgium, Switzerland, Japan, and Columbia
Slide 16 - Euthanasia in the U.S.A. Physician-Assisted Suicide was made legal by vote in the state of Oregon (1994) Remains illegal or not-legislated in all other states The U.S. federal government (the Bush administration) has repeatedly tried to over-rule Oregon’s law, but always unsuccessfully
Slide 17 - Arguments Against Euthanasia Sanctity of Life Harm to Self Harm to Others
Slide 18 - Euthanasia & Sanctity of Life Your life does not belong to you like personal property Your life belongs to God Therefore, when you die should be up to God, not you
Slide 19 - Sanctity of Life Argument: Criticisms This is ultimately a religious argument. Should religion set public policy? Furthermore, even within Christianity, there is disagreement here. What kind of God would require that certain persons must die a slow, painful, suffering dying process?
Slide 20 - Argument of Harm to the Self Anti-euthanasia argument sees death as an evil, a harm to the individual But is death always bad for the individual? When burdened by un-relievable suffering (such as through terminal illness) might there not come a time when burden of suffering outweighs the good of living?
Slide 21 - Argument of Harm to Others Anti-euthanasia movement includes those who think that allowing euthanasia/assisted suicide would harm other people in society. This is especially argued by some groups of the Disabled, who believe that allowing euthanasia would open the door for society to question why we should bother to support the lives of the Disabled (since their lives are burdened by disability)
Slide 22 - Harm to Others (con’t) But is there any evidence to suggest that we would conflate (mix-up) dying individuals who themselves wish to escape their suffering and the Disabled who do not see themselves as overly-burdened? The evidence is not there
Slide 23 - Harm to the Poor Anti-euthanasia forces also argue that the poor will be unfairly coerced into choosing euthanasia, out of fear of large medical expenses. Hence, this would place an unjust burden on the poor. But there is no evidence to show that this is what would happen.
Slide 24 - The Oregon Experience Approximately 30 cases per year of physician assisted suicide Represents 0.15% of deaths in Oregon 80% cancer patients Average age of 70 years Tends to be individuals with higher education Almost exclusively upper-middle class
Slide 25 - Problems With Pro-Euthanasia How far should respect for individual self-determination extend? In the Netherlands, some patients have opted for euthanasia because of depression In the Netherlands, some neonates with severe defects have been euthanized by parental choice Our ordinary moral intuitions suggest that there should be some limits on euthanasia, even when it is voluntary
Slide 26 - Valuing Life Does permitting euthanasia say something about how we, as a society, value life?
Slide 27 - Problem of the Extremes We have seen that both extreme views (about both abortion and euthanasia) have problems. They have some philosophical assumptions that sound arbitrary They do not agree with our ordinary moral intuitions
Slide 28 - Why, Then, Do We Hear These Extreme Arguments So Much? Each side characterizes itself as upholding moral respect for individuals, human rights, and the character of our community Complex arguments and subtle distinctions tend not to arouse much passion and commitment
Slide 29 - Politics The incentive to “leaders” is not to argue for a complex, murky, middle ground. Leaders energize their followers (and hence gain power) by using simple, dramatic slogans and images. Followers are encouraged to protest in the streets, write letters to legislators, donate their own money. They are not encouraged to think critically !
Slide 30 - Ethics Is Not Politics Politics, especially “real politik,” is not about moral truth. It is about winning, about power. Ethics, at least in some sense, is about moral truth. But what is “moral truth”?
Slide 31 - Dangers Arrogance Excessive Self-Confidence Unwillingness to Acknowledge and Engage Other Points of View
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Slide 33 - A Wish El Diccionario Incompleto de Bioética “incompleto” suggests a project that is not entirely finished. Bioethics is not necessarily some set of timeless, abstract truths. It is a project that requires continuing thought, discussion, and often, compromise
Slide 34 - Progress? Can we “temper,” can we moderate the extreme views and extreme passions that drive politics with at least a portion of measured philosophical reflection and discussion? Can we “hear” what each of the sides has to say? What their deepest concerns are?
Slide 35 - Working Together No One is “Pro” Abortion No One is “Pro” Euthanasia No One is “Anti” Life
Slide 36 - Respect and Community Abortion and Euthanasia both have to do with respect and community What does it mean to show respect? Who/what counts as a member of our community We Should Look For Policies That: Respect individual rights, including choice Minimize harm
Slide 37 - The Abortion Challenge Decrease the Demand for Abortion Through Education and Availability of Birth Control Decrease the Harm of Abortion by Making It Legal Illegal abortion is a major health problem Legal abortion can be done safely. Discourage Late-Term Abortions
Slide 38 - The Euthanasia Challenge Why Do People Desire the Euthanasia Option? Fear of unrelieved suffering (physical and emotional) while dying
Slide 39 - Euthanasia Strategies We Can Decrease the Demand for Euthanasia By Improving the Quality of End-of-Life Care Better use of pain-relief medications Better social-psychological supports for the dying Admit That Despite Quality Care, Some Individuals May Still Suffer Terribly Allow assisted death under certain circumstances Safeguards: Use Policy to Minimize “Inappropriate” or “Unnecessary” Euthanasia
Slide 40 - Conclusion The Extreme Views Are Conceptually Flawed But Each Extreme View Also Has Some Moral Appeal A Compromise Public Policy Would Try To: Show some respect to the concerns of each side Build upon common ground Seek to respect individuals, minimize harm, and promote benefit as far as practical