In 1975 James Rachels in his influential article “Active and Passive Euthanasia,” critiqued the 1973 AMA policy statement that prohibited the intentional termination of a patient’s life. Dr. Rachels ignited one of the great debates in modern philosophy arguing against the traditional view that there is no moral difference between killing and letting die, if one form of euthanasia (passive) is permissible, then so is the other (active), thus the stance of the AMA is seriously wrong. Thomas Sullivan however, disputed Rachels interpretation of the policy statement asserting that the position of the AMA is that although the intentional termination of a life is unacceptable, the decision to withdraw extraordinary means, not ordinary means, to continue a life does not have to be brought about by a doctor’s intention to induce death. The cessation of extraordinary treatment may be provoked by a physician’s wish to stop excruciatingly painful treatments that offer little hope for a patient’s recuperation.
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Intention, James Rachels, intentional termination, Dr. Rachels