“Euthanasia.” The word derives from the Greek prefix “eu” or good, and “thanatos” or death. Hence, euthanasia promises a good death. But what is a good death? And what right do medical practitioners have to bring it about?
These questions press themselves upon us with increasing urgency as various jurisdictions consider the adoption of new legislation to permit active euthanasia, the intentional action of medical practitioners to bring about or aid the death of the patient.
For example, in February, 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that adults with medical conditions which are deemed grievous and irremediable should be granted access to physician-assisted suicide. The ruling will take effect on June 6th, 2016.
It seems to me that any discussion of euthanasia, of good death, should begin with a discussion of eubios, or good life. So what is a good life? What is a life worth living? And how can it inform our conception of the good death?
As we turn to address these issues on this episode of The Tentative Apologist Podcast, I am delighted to have as my guest Dr. Heidi Janz. Dr. Janz is visiting scholar with the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre at the University of Alberta where she works on issues pertaining to ethics and disability. Her recent publications include a co-authored paper called “21st Century Eugenics?” in The Lancet and the co-authored essay “Individuals with Disabilities,” in the 2011 book Diversity and Justice in Canada published by Oxford University Press.
Dr. Janz brings a unique perspective to questions of bioethics, euthanasia, and the good life. Dr. Janz has a form of cerebral palsy that is classified as a “severe disability”. This lived experience grants her voice a unique moral authority and wisdom as she shares a challenging perspective from among those who are often shunted to the margins of society.
And now, without further ado, my interview with Dr. Heidi Janz: