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To what extent would a follower of Natural Law allow euthanasia?

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Introduction

To what extent would a follower of Natural Law allow euthanasia? A follower of Natural Law, who took each aspect completely literally, would never allow euthanasia. This is because the five Primary Precepts clearly contradict this action. The Primary Precept that euthanasia undoubtedly defies is 'the preservation of human life'. As the Primary Precepts are what Aquinas deems to be our purpose on earth, euthanasia goes against these guidelines because it is assisting someone to end their life so that they are no longer living. Although this is the only Primary Precept that euthanasia openly contradicts, in actuality, euthanasia goes against all the Primary Precepts of 'reproduction', 'the nurture and education of the young', 'living peacefully in society' and 'to worship God' because if you are dead, then you cannot do these things. The Primary Precepts are all deontological and therefore have no room for leeway. In contrast, the Secondary Precepts are teleological and can change on special and rare occasions as Aquinas himself showed when he went against the Primary Precept of 'reproduction' because he was a monk. ...read more.

Middle

However, according to Natural Law, there are interior and exterior acts. The interior act (the intention) and the exterior act (the action) are both of equal importance, according to Aquinas, and as a result, both must be good to result in a good act. This means that followers of Natural Law may not agree with any forms of euthanasia because even if the intention is good e.g. relieving pain, the act of assisting in someone's suicide, either actively or passively is wrong. On the other hand, followers of Natural Law may accept passive euthanasia but not active euthanasia based on the Doctrine of Double Effect. Active euthanasia involves doing something deliberate that leads to someone's death which is a bad act, possibly leading to a good consequence, whereas, passive euthanasia occurs when the patient dies because the medical professionals either do not do something necessary to keep the patient alive, or when they stop doing something that is keeping the patient alive e.g. not performing a life-extending operation. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, the characteristics that people are said to need to possess in order to be a person are not always possessed by children and therefore some people see it as acceptable to commit infanticide in view of these traits. Most people would consider infanticide to be a barbaric practise and think that although children may not yet possess these traits they have the potential to in the future. This causes us to question if euthanasia is not also a barbaric practise and if someone is in a coma, they also have the potential to develop these traits one day too. This leads many Natural Law followers to accept euthanasia on the basis that some humans do not have personhood, but reject euthanasia if the human has the potential to develop personhood e.g. if a person is in a coma. Although manipulation of Natural Law means there are times in which euthanasia could be acceptable, most people would generally accept that Natural Law would never justify euthanasia due to the five Primary Precepts which are clearly opposed to it. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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