Withdrawal Aversion and the Equivalence Test
Dominic Wilkinson, Ella Butcherine, Julian Savulescu
The American Journal of Bioethics | ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD | Published : 2019
If a doctor is trying to decide whether or not to provide a medical treatment, does it matter ethically whether that treatment has already been started? Health professionals sometimes find it harder to stop a treatment (withdraw) than to refrain from starting the treatment (withhold). But does that feeling correspond to an ethical difference? In this article, we defend equivalence-the view that withholding and withdrawal of treatment are ethically equivalent when all other factors are equal. We argue that preference for withholding over withdrawal could represent a form of cognitive bias-withdrawal aversion. Nevertheless, we consider whether there could be circumstances in which there is a m..View full abstract
Awarded by Wellcome trust
DW and JS were supported for this work by grants from the Wellcome trust WT106587/Z/14/Z, WT 104848/Z/14/Z, WT203132/Z/16/Z. JS was also supported by the Victorian Government's Operational Infrastructure Support Program.