He supports euthanasia and represents the view that assisted suicide should be a legal option for the patient.
To some extent, my views reflect what I have seen happen to the aged and stricken who have been so unfortunate as to survive crippling paralysis. They suffer, and impose suffering on others, unable even to make a request that their torment be ended," says Hook. Saying that surviving paralysis is unfortunate only implies that Hook prefers ending the suffering of being crippled than inflicting another suffering on other's lives.
Contrary to Sidney Hook's support in euthanasia is Leon R. Kass's active pursuit against euthanasia, specifically active euthanasia. Kass offered his philosophy on physician-assisted suicide, mercy killing, and euthanasia with a series of logical questions and reasons supporting his belief that doctors must not allow their patients to take their lives or aid them in the process.
Throughout the article, Kass emphasized consistently that doctors are needed to treat the "whole patient" and minister to their needs as human being. Kass believed that doctors contradict the Hippocratic Oath they take on becoming doctors of medicine if they extend in assisting in or allowing their patient to take his or her own life. According to Kass, the practice of physician-assisted suicide violates the "pureness and holiness of the medical profession" as well as the ethics doctors consider when choosing the goals of their profession.
Kass also questions the criteria used by doctors to determine if a patient is "ready for death" by mercy killing. He discussed that patients who wish to undergo physician-assisted suicide are often clinically depressed and unable to make clear decisions due to pain and mental depression. He mentioned that a patient's self-perception is exceptionally low during terminal illness.
Kass stated that euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide forces doctors' concerns with learning the "limits of life and death" into opposition with the perception of patients' dignity and autonomy. Kass felt that a patient's dignity cannot be "injected in a drug," and mercy killing consequently obstructed doctors' efforts to aid their patients' recovery.
In contrast to Kass's stand, James Rachels shows his favor on active euthanasia. In his article "Active and Passive Euthanasia," James Rachels discusses his disagreement with the use of a distinction between active and passive euthanasia, and explains that active euthanasia should be morally preferable than passive euthanasia. Rachels hopes to convince doctors that separating active and passive euthanasia is inadequate to distinguish that passive euthanasia is morally preferable. He argues that if euthanasia is morally acceptable, then to distinguish active as less acceptable is inadequate.
Rachels observes that people think that actively killing someone is morally worse than passively letting someone die. However, they do not differ since both have the same outcome: the death of the patient on humanitarian grounds. Rachels anticipates two criticisms to his argument. First, with passive euthanasia techniques, the physician does not have to do anything to bring on the patient's death. Rachels replies that letting the patient die involves performing an action by not performing other actions (similar to the act of insulting someone by not shaking their hand).
Second, Rachels's point is only of academic interest since, in point of fact, active euthanasia is illegal. Rachels replies that physicians should nevertheless be aware that the law is forcing on them an indefensible moral doctrine.
The whole issue of euthanasia has come about as a result of the different views on morality of its practice. God has given us the right to make choices in this life. Many people believe that it makes no difference whether we live or die. God would have us to choose life. When people understand and respect the sanctity of human life, they will not vote to end it.
Chung, Ken. On James Rachels and "Active and Passive Euthanasia."
Publish.Uwo.Ca. 28 Dec. 2002. http://publish.uwo.ca/~kchung23/rachels.htm
Hook, Sidney. "In Defense of Voluntary Euthanasia.."
The New York Times (1 Mar. 1987).
Kass, Leon R. "Why Doctors Must Not Kill."
Commonwealth 118 (9 August 1991): 8-12
Layton, Richard. Is Euthanasia Ethical.
Discussion Group Report. 28 Dec. 2002. http://www.humanistsofutah.org/1997/IsEuthanasiaEthical_DiscGrp_6-97.html
Rachels, James. "Active and Passive Euthanasia."
The New England Journal of Medicine 292 (1975): 78-80.
Stein, Charles. "Ending a Life."
The Boston Globe Magazine (14 Mar. 1999).