Deep Uncertainties in the Criteria for Physician Aid-in-Dying for Psychiatric Patients

American Journal of Bioethics 19 (10):54-56 (2019)
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Abstract

In their insightful article, Brent Kious and Margaret Battin (2019) correctly identify an inconsistency between an involuntary psychiatric commitment for suicide prevention and physician aid in dying (PAD). They declare that it may be possible to resolve the problem by articulating “objective standards for evaluating the severity of others’ suffering,” but ultimately they admit that this task is beyond the scope of their article since the solution depends on “a deep and difficult” question about comparing the worseness of two possible scenarios: letting someone die (who could have been helped) with not letting someone die (whose suffering could only be alleviated by death). In our commentary, we argue that creating such standards is more difficult than the authors assume because of the many types of deep uncertainties we have to deal with: (1) diagnostic, (2) motivational, and (3) existential.

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Tomasz Żuradzki
Jagiellonian University

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