Essay: Feminist Ethics Many Arguments

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[. . .] It is not difficult to see why doctors that fail to put in place the shunt to prevent the accumulation of fluid in the brain would be abandoning this very basic obligation. It is also easy to see why failing to repair the spinal opening would amount to hastening the death of baby John Doe -- an undertaking or action that cannot be reconciled with the duty to preserve life.

Third, there is also the argument that everybody has the right to life. The right to life, as MacKinnon (2012, p. 82) observes, has got to do with "the right not to be killed." By preventing the necessary interventions from being undertaken so as to save baby John Doe's life, Sarah and Mike would be violating an independent entity's basic right. It is, however, important to note that in some cases, it has been argued that it is possible for individuals to waiver this basic right, thereby cancelling other people's duty not to kill (Wennberg, 1989, p. 58). This is particularly the case when an individual commits murder, whereby it becomes permissible for the courts to prescribe the punishment of death. Baby John Doe has not waived his right to live. Denying him the chance to life just because of a medical condition would be immoral and inappropriate.

There is also the concept of autonomy. In basic terms, autonomy has got to do with "the right of a rational person to self-rule and to generate personal decisions independently" (Butts and Rich, 2005, p. 12). The application of this concept in this scenario would mean that neither the doctors involved nor baby John Doe's parents have the right to make such a critical decision about baby John Doe, especially a decision that has got to do with whether or not he should be allowed to continue living.

In the final analysis, therefore, baby John Doe should be allowed to live. All the necessary measures should be taken to preserve his life. If anything, it is baby John Doe who should be permitted to make that critical decision -- whether or not to live -- once he attains full awareness and is able to appreciate the consequence of his actions.

References

Butts, J.B. & Rich, K. (2005). Nursing Ethics: Across the Curriculum and Into Practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning.

DeWit, S.C. & O'Neill, P.A. (2013). Fundamental Concepts and Skills for Nursing (4th ed.). St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier Health Sciences.

MacKinnon, B. (2012). Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

World Medical Association. (1983). International Code of Medical Ethics. Retrieved from http://history.nih.gov/research/downloads/ICME.pdf

Wennberg, R.N. (1989). Terminal Choices: Euthanasia, Suicide, and the Right to Die. Grand Rapids, Mich: Wm.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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