Volume 21, Number 4, Winter 2010


Pandemic Preparedness Planning: Will Provisions for Involuntary Termination of Life Support Invite Active Euthanasia?


Jeffrey T. Berger


The Journal of Clinical Ethics 21, no. 4 (Winter 2010): 308-311.


A number of influential reports on influenza pandemic preparedness include recommendations for extra-autonomous decisions to withdraw mechanical ventilation from some patients, who might still benefit from this technology, when demand for ventilators exceeds supply.  An unintended implication of recommendations for nonvoluntary and involuntary termination of life support is that it make pandemic preparedness plans vulnerable to patientsí claims for assisted suicide and active euthanasia. Supporters of nonvoluntary passive euthanasia need to articulate why it is both morally different and morally superior to voluntary active euthanasia if they do not wish to invite expansion of end-of-life options during health system catastrophe.


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