Questions of Autonomy

Presents an ethical analysis of two cases of patients requesting euthanasia and the common denominator in both cases – the question of autonomy.

In the two cases of Mrs. White (an old woman requesting withdrawal of life supporting care) and Mr. Black (a younger man with MS who is requesting physician-assisted suicide at a later stage) we are faced with two fundamentally different ethical problems. However, this paper will argue that an ethical analysis would suggest one key to both problems: autonomy. Although there are other ethical issues to both cases, it will be seen that autonomy is the key point at which all of these issues converge and which, therefore, presents us with the best avenue for making a decision as to the physician’s action in both cases.