Physicians have disagreed for years about whether they should be involved in capital punishment of convicted criminals. Some physicians vigorously support participation, often arguing that organs should first be removed for transplantation. One frequent objection to capital punishment is that sometimes techniques don't work the first time, resulting in lingering, painful deaths. If physicians would guarantee that a patient would not die in such a way, they would gain the trust of some patients.
For any kind of killing, some physicians favor the creation of "designated killer " technicians. This would free physicians from the taint of killing, keeping their image pure and their hands clean. But is this workable? Insofar as the designated killers are mere technicians, what prevents them from abusing their role? Wouldn't it be better for physicians, torn between saving life and honoring patients' wishes, to be reluctant killers? Wouldn't physicians know best what to do if something went wrong?
Many physicians paradoxically endorse mercy killing but refuse to do it themselves. Nor do they think other physicians should kill. Physicians who support mercy killing but who don't want physicians to kill commonly emphasize the importance of maintaining the role of the physician as a healer and preserver of life. One poll of American physicians showed 60 percent favoring euthanasia but less than half would perform it themselves. To such physicians, taking life radically conflicts with the symbolic image of physicians. Such conflict, they say, destroys trust in physicians.
Discussing this problem of designated killers in 1988, New England Journal of Medicine editor Marcia Angell called the idea "an unsavory prospect. " She suggested that mercy killing may one day be the end point of a continuum of good patient care. She asks how any physician can excuse himself from this most basic notion? Dr. Angell concluded, "Perhaps, also, those who favor legalizing euthanasia but would not perform it should rethink their position. "
Dr. Angell implies that it is hypocritical to favor mercy killing but would be unwilling to perform it. Is this true? There are at least two schools of thought. Some thinkers believe that if one favors, say, meat—eating, one should be willing to kill and prepare animals for eating oneself. Others conclude differently, seeing no reason why each person who favors a position must be willing to implement it.
Must you be willing to kill a serial murderer to favor capital punishment? Critics say one must. Being face—to—face with one's victims creates basic moral qualms and such moral restraints are important to respect. In Stanley Milgram's studies on obedience, naive subjects under an experimenter's control were dramatically less willing to inflict injury as the victims became closer to subjects under study. In contrast, as the consequences of actions became more remote, such as by pressing a switch which released a bomb on an unseen, unknown populace, it became easier to inflict injury.
Consider the main points that the author makes throughout the passage. The primary purpose of this passage is to:[A] speculate on the symbolism of the physician as healer.
[B] portray those doctors who argue against administering euthanasia as hypocritical.
[C] cast and explain the different arguments surrounding euthanasia.
[D] introduce the concept of "designated killers " to a receptive audience.
According to the passage, which of the following is most likely to be true of those physicians who favor the creation of so—called "designated killers? "[A] They believe it is good patient care to provide a continuum of services.
[B] They seek to keep the physician remote from acts of harm.
[C] They understand that it raises a conflict with their opinions on capital punishment.
[D] They fear abuse of the privilege that comes from this unique role.
Suppose the following four scenarios took place in the United States in the next year. Which of these scenarios would strengthen the argument against doctors performing acts of euthanasia?[A] A poll of American physicians shows that more than half are against euthanasia.
[B] A string of acts of euthanasia, administered by "designated killers, " encounter medical difficulties.
[C] Some physicians become more willing to perform euthanasia as they become more informed with the patient's case history.
[D] In nations that have legalized physician—assisted suicide, patients with serious health conditions prefer to visit doctors who refuse to perform euthanasia.
For which of the following claims does the passage NOT offer supporting evidence?[A] Forty percent of American physicians disagree with or have no opinion concerning the practice of euthanasia.
[B] American physicians have debated their role in capital punishment at successive national conferences.
[C] The moral difficulties that physicians encounter in capital punishments are not to be dismissed.
[D] The New England Journal of Medicine has adopted an editorial stance against the suggested use of "designated killers. "
According not necessarily to the author, but to those in favor of euthanasia specifically, what is a potentially negative aspect of the use of "designated killers? "[A] They would disrupt the continuum of patient care provided by a physician.
[B] They might release physicians from an association with death.
[C] Their use might prevent lingering, painful deaths.
[D] The prescription of euthanasia may become more prevalent as physicians are removed from the act itself.
Suppose that the American Medical Association adopted the use of practiced "designated killers " as it is mentioned in the pasage. Which of the following might be expected responses, based on information presented in the passage?[A] The New England Journal of Medicine issues an editorial condoning the practice.
[B] A poll of American physicians shows a great increase in the number of physicians willing to attend to mercy killings.
[C] Some physicians note an increase in trust between themselves and patients.
[D] The presence of physicians at capital punishment proceedings becomes more widespread.
The reader can conclude that a basic assumption of those in favor of using "designated killers " is that:[A] the practice would evolve into a readily available medical option.
[B] very few physicians could be convinced to assume the role and duties.
[C] physicians would have to be present with the patient in order to conduct euthanasia.
[D] many physicians are reluctant to administer euthanasia because they are not in favor of capital punishment.
The paradox of physician—endorsed euthanasia is summarized in the passage by which of the following?[A] Many physicians endorse the idea of euthanasia but are unwilling to perform the act or would prefer other physicians to perform it.
[B] Many physicians agree with euthanasia and are willing to endorse a cadre of "designated killers " that would perform the act.
[C] Many physicians endorse euthanasia because it ends long—term pain and suffering.
[D] Many physicians endorse euthanasia and are unwilling to perform it until it is endorsed by a professional association.