Palliative Sedation (Part II). Ethical questions and moral principles

  • Paulina Taboada R. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile


This article analyzes some of the most controversial ethical questions related to the use of sedation at the end-of-life. Among these questions are: 1. Whether there is an ethically relevant difference between Palliative Sedation (PS) and euthanasia and physician-assisted-suicide; 2. Whether the principle of double effect can be appropriately applied to justify the use of sedation at the end-of-life; 3. Whether PS might be ethically acceptable in the case of patients that are not mminently
dying (agony); 4. Whether decisions to limit care and to withdraw medically assisted nutrition and hydration are a necessary condition for PS; 5. Whether sedation is an adequate response to psycho-spiritual symptoms, including ‘existential suffering’; 6. Whether sedation could be used in patients who are not able to give their informed consent (e.g. patients with cognitive impairment of diverse origins). Ethical- and anthropological reflections are proposed for each of these questions. Reference to some general ethical principles is made, such us: the inviolability of human life; respect for the dignity of the dying; the therapeutic principle and proportionality in medical care; the principle of double effect; respect for a responsible exercise of freedom (autonomy); justice and solidarity.
Keywords palliative care, deep sedation, terminal care, hospice care, euthanasia
How to Cite
Taboada R., P. (2014). Palliative Sedation (Part II). Ethical questions and moral principles. Acta Bioethica, 20(2). Retrieved from