Letting, die and mercy killing

Andrius Narbekovas, Kazys Meilius

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    We are all called to make moral decisions, not only about preserving life and health, but also about accepting our death and dying. There are situations, when it is morally right, and indeed obligatory, to allow a dying person to die in peace and dignity. But there is a world of difference between allowing a peaceful death, and deliberately setting out to bring death of the person either by acts of commission (s.c. ‘active euthanasia’), or by acts of omission (s.c. ‘passive euthanasia’). The word “killing” seems proper for euthanasia, because “to kill” does mean “to intentionally cause the death of someone.” It can be morally acceptable to withhold or withdraw a treatment precisely because it is reasonably judged as inefficacious (futile), or excessively burdensome for the patient. One’s reason for withholding such treatment must not be a judgement about the desirability of putting an end to the patient’s life, but a judgement about the desirability of putting an end to the treatment, which is futile or burdensome.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2-7
    JournalMedical ethics & bioethics = Medicínska etika & bioetika
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2003



    • Euthanasia
    • Principle of double effect
    • Direct and indirect killing

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