Emily Jackson’s Dangerous Legal Defense for Medicalized Killing

Medicalized killing exists as a global issue. For example, the Netherlands was the first country to legalize euthanasia practices in 2001. Since that time, ten countries, ten U.S. States, and the District of Columbia have adopted some form of legislation that allows immoral practices for terminating life. However, many evangelicals remain unaware of laws that attack and deny the sanctify of human life worldwide.

One of the most dangerous legal arguments from around the world comes from Emily Jackson, Professor of Law at London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom. Jackson’s basic argument is that euthanasia ought to remain illegal, but a defense clause would prevent criminal prosecution in certain cases. Her most notable work on this matter is in Debating Euthanasia with renown Christian ethicist John Keown. Therefore, the thesis of this presentation is that Jackson’s argument for medicalized killing legislation is quite compelling for those who reject the sanctity of human life ethic on religious grounds. The purpose is to bring awareness to her view so that Christian scholars and ethicists can prepare a biblical response to her legal recommendation.

The importance of Jackson’s legal defense for medicalized death cannot be overstated even in the American context. Articles and books are being published to promote a secular ethic that rejects the sanctity of all human life. For example, Jonthan Will, Founding Director of the Bioethics & Health Law Center and Professor of Law at Mississippi College School of Law, published “Dying with Dignity; Living with Laws (and Ethics),” in a 2019 Hastings Center Report, which utilizes the same arguments that Jackson does in her book—i.e., that assistance in dying laws ought to be viewed as equivalent to withholding or withdrawing medical treatment.

On the flip side, Jackson relies on the concepts from American scholars, Beauchamp and Childress, who wrote Principles of Biomedical Ethics, which is in its 8th edition since 2019. Furthermore, she builds her defense clause legislation by reviewing Supreme Court cases in the United States of America, and mandated reports from Oregon’s “Death with Dignity” Act. Her defense legislation compared to U.S. state laws is more convincing for the legalization of euthanasia, which is why it must be addressed.

The following method will be employed to defend this paper’s thesis. First, the author will define what Jackson means by assisted dying. Of note, her category goes beyond physician-assisted suicide. Second, one must be aware of the two ways her defense clause can be applied to medicalized killing. Her argument stems from prospective authorization, retrospective investigation, and limited autonomy. Third, an explanation for how Jackson’s proposed legislation differs from and is superior to U.S. state laws proving its danger to the sanctity of life ethic. These three points will introduce participants to another legal argument from a United Kingdom attorney so that further conversations among evangelicals will be had to protect the sanctity of life on a global level.