Table 1

Consider two cases: (1) ventilator-dependent quadriplegic requests withdrawal of ventilator (WSLT); (2) quadriplegic, who has regained spontaneous breathing and weaning from ventilator, requests lethal dose of medication (VAE)

Status quo
 Is the doctor causing death?NoYes
 Is it an active intervention?NoYes
 Is the doctor intending death?NoYes
 Does the doctor kill the patient?NoYes
 Is it suicide?NoMaybe
 Is it assisted suicide?NoMaybe
 Is the doctor morally responsible for death?NoYes
 Is it permitted morally?YesNo
 Is it legal?YesNo
Without moral fictions
 Is the doctor causing death?YesYes
 Is it an active intervention?YesYes
 Is the doctor intending death?Sometimes Yes, sometimes NoYes
 Does the doctor kill the patient?YesYes
 Is it suicide?YesYes
 Is it assisted suicide?YesYes
 Is the doctor morally responsible for death?YesYes
 Is it permitted morally?YesYes
 Is/should it be legal?YesOpen question
  • VAE, voluntary active euthanasia; WLST, withdrawing life-sustaining treatment.