Medical Ethics


Is a Commitment to Good End-of-Life Care Incompatible with the Legalization of Physician-Assisted Suicide?

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Journal of Applied Philosophy 26.1 (2009): 27-45
Many have held that there is some kind of incompatibility between a commitment to good end-of-life care and the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. This opposition to physician-assisted suicide encompasses a cluster of different claims. In this essay I try to clarify some of the most important of these claims and show that they do not stand up well to conceptual and empirical scrutiny.

PICU Prometheus: Ethical Issues in the Treatment of Very Sick Children in Pediatric Intensive Care

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Mortality 10.4 (2005): 262-75.
Through a focus on one child’s extended stay in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, I raise four general questions about pediatric medicine: How should physicians communicate with parents of very sick children? How should physicians involve parents of very sick children in treatment decisions? How should care be coordinated when a child is being treated by different medical teams with rotating personnel? Should the guidelines for making judgments of medical futility and discontinuation of treatment differ when the patient is a child rather than an adult?

A Moral Defense of Oregon's Physician-assisted Suicide Law

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Mortality 10.1 (2005): 53-67.
Since 1998, physician-assisted suicide has been legal in the American state of Oregon. In this paper, I defend Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide (PAS) law against two of the most common objections raised against it. First, I try to show that it is not intrinsically wrong for someone with a terminal disease to kill herself. Second, I try to show that it is not intrinsically wrong for physicians to assist someone with a terminal disease who has reasonable grounds for wanting to kill herself.

Presumed Consent, Autonomy, and Organ Donation

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Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 29.1 (2004): 37-59.
I argue that a policy of presumed consent for cadaveric organ procurement, which assumes that people do want to donate their organs for transplantation after their death, would be a moral improvement over the current American system, which assumes that people do not want to donate their organs. I address what I take to be the most important objection to presumed consent. The objection is that if we implement presumed consent we will end up removing organs from the bodies of people who did not want their organs removed, and that this situation is morally unacceptable because it violates the principle of respect for autonomy that underlies our concept of informed consent. I argue that while removing organs from the bodies of people who did not want them removed is unfortunate, it is morally no worse that not removing organs from the bodies of people who did want them removed, and that a policy of presumed consent will produce fewer of these unfortunate results than the current system.

Paying for Kidneys: The Case Against Prohibition

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With Robert M. Sade. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 12.1 (2002): 17-45.
We argue that healthy people should be allowed to sell one of their kidneys while they are alive—that the current prohibition on payment for kidneys ought to be overturned. Our argument has three parts. First, we argue that the moral basis for the current policy on live kidney donations and on the sale of other kinds of tissue implies that we ought to legalize the sale of kidneys. Second, we address the objection that the sale of kidneys is intrinsically wrong because it violates the Kantian duty of respect for humanity. Third, we address a range of consequentialist objections based on the idea that kidney sales will be exploitative. Throughout the paper, we argue only that it ought to be legal for an individual to receive payment for a kidney. We do not argue that it ought to be legal for an individual to buy a kidney.

© 2012 | Michael B. Gill

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