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Physician-assisted death with limited access to palliative care
  1. Joaquín Barutta1,2,
  2. Jochen Vollmann1
  1. 1Institute for Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum, Germany
  2. 2Department of Medical Humanities, Italian Hospital University, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  1. Correspondence to Dr Joaquín Barutta, Institute for Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, Ruhr University Bochum, Malakowturm—Markstr. 258a, Bochum D-44799, Germany; Joaquin.Barutta{at}


Even among advocates of legalising physician-assisted death, many argue that this should be done only once palliative care has become widely available. Meanwhile, according to them, physician-assisted death should be banned. Four arguments are often presented to support this claim, which we call the argument of lack of autonomy, the argument of existing alternatives, the argument of unfair inequalities and the argument of the antagonism between physician-assisted death and palliative care. We argue that although these arguments provide strong reasons to take appropriate measures to guarantee access to good quality palliative care to everyone who needs it, they do not justify a ban on physician-assisted death until we have achieved this goal.

  • Euthanasia
  • Palliative Care
  • End of Life Care
  • Public Policy

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