Ending the life of the act/omission dispute : causation in withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining measures
McGee, Andrew (2011) Ending the life of the act/omission dispute : causation in withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining measures. Legal Studies : Journal of the Society of Legal Scholars, 31.
My aim in this paper is to challenge the increasingly common view in the literature that the law on end of life decision making is in disarray and is in need of urgent reform. My argument is that this assessment of the law is based on assumptions about the relationship between the identity of the defendant and their conduct, and about the nature of causation, which, on examination, prove to be indefensible. I then provide a clarification of the relationship between causation and omissions which proves that the current legal position does not need modification, at least on the grounds that are commonly advanced for the converse view. This enables me, in conclusion, to clarify important conceptual and moral differences between withholding, refusing and withdrawing life-sustaining measures on the one hand, and assisted suicide and euthanasia, on the other.
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