Thursday, January 18, 2007

The difference between euthanasia and refusing treatment

Received by email:

A Response to Peter Singer: re: A Dubious Distinction

January 17, 2007

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition - Canada

Peter Singer may be the most influential bioethicist in North America and certainly one of the most prominent bioethicists in the world. But in his article: A Dubious Distinction, he simply fails to recognize basic ethical differences between refusing medical treatment and intentionally causing death.

In reference to the case of Piergiorgio Welby who had his respirator disconnected by Doctor Mario Riccio, Welby died a natural death. This was not a case of assisted suicide or euthanasia but simply an end-of-life decision. Riccio should not be charged with any criminal offense. People should have the right to refuse medical treatment, but that in no way can be connected to the issues of euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Euthanasia is an intentional action or omission for the purpose of causing death, whereby that intentional action or omission causes death. In the case of Welby, he died of his medical condition. Nobody put a bag over his head, fatally injected him, or dehydrated him to death.

The distinction between natural death and intended death is clear. A natural death results by ones medical condition and the other results by an intentional causation of death.

If Welby were not nearing death, the disconnecting of his respirator would not have led to his death, whereby if Welby had been fatally injected, he would have died whether he was nearing death or not.

Singer wants you to believe that there are no repercussions to legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide. The facts prove that euthanasia and assisted suicide are a direct threat to the lives of vulnerable people who's lives have been already devalued by Singer's quality of life ethic.

Alex Schadenberg

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition