Posted on April 19, 2017 at 4:30 AM
Donald Harvey died this week in prison. Called the “Angel of Death,” the healthcare worker killed dozens of hospital patients in the 1970s and 1980s.
Interestingly, Harvey described his acts (mixing cyanide, rat poison, or arsenic into their food) as acts of benevolence and mercy. He held firm in his belief that he had done his victims a favor. (HT: People Mag.; NY Times)
This rationale is similar to that used by physicians who unilaterally withhold or withdraw potentially life-prolonging therapy. Therefore, it is worth considering exactly what are the ethically relevant distinctions between Harvey and these clinicians.