Is there a moral difference between killing and letting die in healthcare?

Mohammed Ratoubi Alanazi, Mansour Moklif Alanzi


The purpose of this review is to prove that there is no moral difference between killing and letting one die in healthcare. It is important to be aware of the moral equivalence of killing and letting die. The doctor that allows the patient to die without providing life saving measures, and the doctor that administers a lethal injection both have the same outcome. The patient dies in either case. The Abrahamic religions; Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, all argue for the sanctity of life. The world’s major religions; Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all have doctrines concerning the sanctity of life; and they support the main arguments of this study that there is no moral difference between killing and letting die. In relation to patient autonomy and the patient's right to die, it is very important to highlight that doctors have a moral and legal responsibility to save lives. In addition, we discuss the distinction centres on the true definition of patient autonomy, and who is responsible for defining the “quality” of life. The intention and foresight are critical points that support the thesis statement that killing and letting one die are one in the same. Intention is the intentional killing of a human being, however, the  when one refers to foreseen, it brings to mind images of a doctor and a patient’s family that is taking into consideration the entire different variables that they must deal with in order to decide whether or not to terminate life sustaining measures. They are trying to foresee what type of life the patient will have if life prolonging treatment is withdrawn. The acts and omissions doctrine as described in this review shows that there is no moral difference to kill a person or to let him die. The end result is the same, and someone is dead. Finally, we extensively discussed the various viewpoints regarding whether or not there is a moral difference between killing and letting die. The evidence reveals that there is no moral difference between the two. There is no doubt that the debate over killing and letting die will continue for years to come. It is critical that the issue be addressed at this particular time in history with the advent of modern medical technology.  



Euthanasia, Patient autonomy, Intention, Foresight, Acts and omissions

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