| BioEdge | Sunday, June 18, 2017 |
There is endless debate about the ethics of euthanasia. Yet even if one sets aside principled objections to the procedure, there are still contextual risks to introducing new medical interventions into a medical market-economy. We can never set aside the risk of a “market takeover”.
Writing in ABC Religion and Ethics this week, Daniel Fleming from St. Vincent’s Health Australia explores the risks of market forces undermining attempts to regulate euthanasia once it is introduced in a jurisdiction. Citing sources from Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel to Slovenian intellectual Slavoj Zizek, Fleming argues that once medical procedures are introduced into a particular social context, they face the threat of being governed by the ideology of that social context. And for free market economies, the ideology is capitalism:
“...we should consider what the impact of private, for-profit, companies which specialise in the provision of euthanasia might be. Such companies would have as their primary purpose profit or return to share-holders. They would, assumedly, be required to increase business in order to produce better annual results. What would their marketing strategies look like? Who would their target market be?”Fleming continues:
“Such companies do not currently exist, but for-profit health insurance companies do, and so we should also consider what the proposed legislation might look like from the perspective of an insurance company which is trying to improve its bottom line. Could it be that insurance companies would direct patients toward the cheaper option instead of agreeing to a larger payout for more expensive care?”
These are uncomfortable considerations, but as the author observes, it’s a discussion that legislations considering euthanasia need to have.
Sunday, June 18, 2017
A Massachusetts woman has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in a case which was reported across the United States and could affect the debate about assisted suicide.
In 2014 Michelle Carter, then 17, used phone calls and text messages to bully her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, 18, into asphyxiating himself in his car.
Their relationship was a bizarre one. Although they lived only an hour away from each other, they met in Florida on family holidays. Thereafter they only met each other a handful of times. But they texted each other incessantly, especially about Roy’s desire to kill himself. Ms Carter encouraged him.
However, when he was sitting in his car and the fumes were building up, he got out, clearly wanting to live. She instructed him to get back in. He did and he died.
There are two schools of thought about Ms Carter’s bullying. Most people would agree with the judge that she had a duty to try to save Roy’s life and acted in a “wanton and reckless” manner.
But others, while acknowledging that her words were reprehensible, point out that Massachusetts has no law against assisted suicide and that words are not bullets. They argue that her incitement was protected free speech.
The American Civil Liberties Union has yet another reason why Ms Carter should have been acquitted: “If allowed to stand, Ms. Carter’s conviction could chill important and worthwhile end-of-life discussions between loved ones.” In other words, this throws sand in the gears of legalising assisted suicide.
What do you think?
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