El caso de karen A. quinlan: comentario ético a una sentencia
Materias Investigacion::Derecho
Issue Date: 
Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Navarra
Santos , Modesto. ""El caso de karen A. quinlan: comentario ético a una sentencia"". Persona y Derecho, 2 (1975) : 465-518.
The case of Karen A. Ouinlan, which numerous rotaries of the vhole world have dealt with profusely, has been the subject of several commentaries of varying nature-medical, legal and ethical. In all of them, euthanasia has been mentioned and implied in one form or another in the present case. Without omitting the consideration of this subject, the direct objective of this work is precisely that of evaluating the sentence given by the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey in the County of Morris on the 10th. of November last year when it ruled out the authorization to withdraw the respirator from Karen, as had been presented to the Court by Karen's parents. The evaluation of this sentence is done from the principies of ethics and those of natural law, precisely those inspired by the conscience, morality, abstract law and justice, all of them invoked by the power of equity that the forementioned Court supports. AII these concepts are analyzed one by one, considering the interpretations derived from the arguments of the sentence as well as the significance that ethics and natural law concede them. Hence, the concepts of conscience (psychologial, judicial and moral) and morality are studied as well as those of law (natural and positive) in their relation with the notion of justice. Special attention is given to the concept of equity, and the principies that ought to be understood on the natural e and extension of the right to live are shown, while showing at the same time the subject on which this rigth stands in a proper and radical manner. The conclusion that the present study arrives at after analyzing the concepts referred to and used in pronouncing the sentence, is that the sentence, although formally correct from a strict positive-Iegal dimension, lacks the adequate basis of ethical and natural law principies. One cannot deny that the sentence constitutes, as a matter of fact, a praiseworthy effort to defend the sacred value of human lite from a legal point of view, while al so represents a decisive opposition to the growing demands of legalizing euthanasia. It is evident that these demands constitute a very serious threat to the life of man and an attack to the right to live that man has received from God. From this point of view, there is no doubt that the sentence constitutes -we repeat- a prudent legal measure against this threat. But, in our opinion, the case of Karen Ouinlan could be resolved in a different manner to that of enunciated by the sentence, without damaging in the least the right to live which undoubtely every human being has, and, as a consequence, witout commiting euthanasia. From this precise consideration, a praise is done of the new sentence dictated by the Supreme Court of the Sta te of New Jersey on this case.

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