List journal issues    
 
 
Home List journal issues Table of contents Subscribe to PAQ

Article

Volume 26 • Number 1

January 2012



 

 

THE ETHICS OF VOLUNTARY AMPUTATION


by Peter Brian Barry


In 1999, Scottish surgeon Robert Smith was prevented from amputating a healthy leg of a patient—what would have been his third such amputation—after an ethics committee report was issued and the chief executive of the hospital's Trust announced a prohibition on such surgery. The announcement of the prohibition surprised many; some were surprised to learn that medical professionals were in the business of amputating healthy limbs at all, certain that there was no need to entertain the ethical permissibility of deliberately disabling patients. But Smith's defenders undoubtedly reject this characterization of his practice. While Smith did not amputate in the sort of circumstances in which amputations are normally performed, the removal of his patients' limbs was intended to relieve their significant suffering and restore their health. Further, the patients who requested their amputation would presumably deny that they were being disabled, maintaining instead that amputation relieved their disability. Much depends, then, on how the issue of "voluntary amputation" is framed.


view PDF
 

 

 

 
Home | Issue Index
 
© 2012 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

Content in Public Affairs Quarterly is intended for personal, noncommercial use only. You may not reproduce, publish, distribute, transmit, participate in the transfer or sale of, modify, create derivative works from, display, or in any way exploit the Public Affairs Quarterly database in whole or in part without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Public Affairs Quarterly is published by the University of Illinois Press on behalf of North American Philosophical Publications.

ISSN: 2152-0542