Ethics in Abuse

Essay by mandychristopherCollege, UndergraduateC+, April 2008

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A couple of years ago in Knoxville, Tennessee there was a case of child abuse where a baby of just a few months old was shaken and abused to the point that it was left with severe brain trauma and required mechanical ventilation in order to live. Removed from the ventilator, the baby could not continue living. While the parents, which includes the dad who shook the baby would not agree to passively euthanize the child, the hospital decided the best thing to do was allow the child to do a peaceful death by taking it off life support. The reasoning the parents would not take the baby off life support was because the dad would be tried for murder instead of child abuse which is a lesser charger. There are a few ethical issues in this scenario. First, there is the issue of euthanasia itself secondly, the issue of keeping someone alive for personal gain is presented, and finally, there is the issue of determining whether the child was being kept alive based by the use of extraordinary measures.

Before continuing, there are few terms that need to be defined. First of all, there are two forms of euthanasia, active and passive. Active Euthanasia is defined as “using certain death-causing means to bring about or cause the death of a person.” (McKinnon). Passive Euthanasia is defined as “withholding or withdrawing certain treatment and letting a patient die.” (McKinnon) In the situation described previously, the issue at hand is Passive Euthanasia. Basically, even though the doctors actually removed the baby from life support that is not what actually killed him. The injuries that were inflicted by his father are what actually killed him. As a result, the ethicalness of Passive Euthanasia will need to be considered further.

There is...