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Death in Morbid Fascination: Can there ever be a Right to Die - Research Paper Example

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Death and Morbid Fascination: Can there ever be a Right to Die? Introduction Despite the universal inevitability of death, the issue of dying will constantly exist as a fearsome yet darkly interesting issue. The media is fascinated with death; movies and books keep watchers and readers glued to the process of death as it is played out on screen or within pages (Blakey and Murray 941, McKenzie)…
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Death in Morbid Fascination: Can there ever be a Right to Die

Download file to see previous pages... The demise of legal attempts to regulate anything other than the prohibition of acts which cause death has caused heated debate. This is particularly the case for abortion and assisted suicide. This paper will explore the issue of death as embodied in the law, and societal responses to attempts to provide some form of ‘right to die’. Abortion and Death What is primarily a relevant topic for debate is the way in which the law treats euthanasia and abortion differently. While the law essentially allows the killing of another (the foetus), it openly prohibits granting others the right to help another who expressly wishes to die (Klasing). The approach of the law to these two issues brings a great deal of principles into play: is killing the unborn human more palatable than killing the already born human? Why is a life of pain and suffering not to able to succumb to the right to die? Can there ever exist a right to die? Before such underlying principles are assessed, it is primarily necessary to provide a brief overview of the stance of the law (and underlying public policy principles) relating to euthanasia and abortion. Abortion law in the UK initially emerged as early as the 13th century through common law decisions. Since then, abortion has traipsed a rocky path. In accordance with the approach of religion, abortion was accepted and permitted until ‘quickening’ caused the spirit to enter the foetus, until it was prohibited under Lord Ellenborough’s Act of 1803. Abortion became subject to dangers posed to the woman’s life as a result of the foetus, in which cases it was allowed under the Infant Life Preservation Act 1929. Arguably as a response to the deaths of women who resorted to illegal methods of abortion, it was finally made legal in the Abortion Act 1967. Currently, the most acceptable reason for permitting abortion is due to foetal disability, though only 1% of abortions carried out are under this justification (Department of Health 1). Importantly, abortions undertaken by reason of foetal disability are permitted up until birth. The law of abortion, however, is the subject of much debate: the criminal law’s fundamental aim to preserve the sanctity of life (Devlin 2) is at complete odds with its law on abortion. While some argue that abortion laws are merely a response to public attitudes (hence its legalisation in some countries and prohibition in others), it has been responded that “no claims can be made on that basis about which interests requiring legal protection the regulation is (ultimately) intended to benefit” (Esser et al 30). The most central problem experienced by laws which permit abortion is the cut-off period, beyond which abortion is not permitted. It is clear that the law considers such a point to be indicative of actual ‘life’ within the foetus on a scientific level. But what of the philosophical aspects of this cut-off point? Why does foetal disability make death more warranted (or acceptable) than a normal foetus (Keown 125)? Why does active causing of death need a justificatory reason based on threats to another’s life? The differences in approaches across the globe to abortion highlights that social attitudes towards death is an inherently subjective moral concept. As a result the regulation of abortion in different ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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