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The challenge of brain death for the sanctity of life ethic

Author(s): Singer, P

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Abstract: For more than thirty years, in most of the world, the irreversible cessation of all brain function, more commonly known as brain death, has been accepted as a criterion of death. Yet the philosophical basis on which this understanding of death was originally grounded has been undermined by the long-term maintenance of bodily functions in brain dead patients. More recently, the American case of Jahi McMath has cast doubt on whether the standard tests for diagnosing brain death exclude a condition in which the patient is not dead, but in a minimally conscious state. I argue that the evidence now clearly shows that brain death is not equivalent to the death of the human organism. We therefore face a choice: Either we stop removing vital organs from brain dead patients, or we accept that it is not wrong to kill an innocent human who has irreversibly lost consciousness.
Publication Date: Dec-2018
Citation: Singer, Peter. "The challenge of brain death for the sanctity of life ethic." Ethics & Bioethics 8, no. 3-4 (2018): 153-165.
DOI: doi:10.2478/ebce-2018-0012
ISSN: 1338-5615
EISSN: 2453-7829
Pages: 153 - 165
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Ethics and Bioethics (in Central Europe)
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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