Bioethics in a Liberal Society by Max J. Charlesworth

By Max J. Charlesworth

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But the family decision cannot, finally, overrule the decision of the individual. It would be unthinkable in a liberal society for medical treatment to be removed because of a family decision when that is against the express wishes of the patient. Though there may be difficulties in reconciling liberal values with different cultural approaches to death and dying, and while a great of sensitivity is needed in negotiating those difficulties, the liberal society cannot abdicate its central commitment to the value of personal autonomy.

For Hindus, 'quality of life rather than the sanctity of life is a consideration because of a strong belief in rebirth'. 23 In Japan, the care of disabled newborn infants is heavily influenced by social attitudes based upon Buddhist and Confucian teaching, especially the latter's strong emphasis on law, order, authority and social status. As a result Japanese physicians play a largely paternalistic role. A common view is that parents or families, confronted with the birth of a disabled child, cannot know what the consequences for the child, or for themselves, really are and so cannot give informed consent to any decision about either treatment or the withdrawal of treatment.

5 ad 3. 4. Richard A. McCormick, "'Physician assisted suicide: flight from compassion'", Christian Century, 108, 1991, p. 1132. 5.

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