Euthanasia for Cyborgs

Challenges Regarding Human Self-Technification at the End of Life

Advancements in personalized medicine have led to new products and therapeutic approaches at the interface between biomedicine and new technologies. However, these achievements also lead to fundamental problems which may be particularly salient in the use of self-acting defibrillators. At this interface between law and medicine, a dissertation at the ZLSR is now examining how the use of these machines, especially at the end of life, can be legally compliant.

Usually defibrillators which automatically deliver electric impulses are firmly connected to the human body and are used on patients with cardiac arrhythmia, with the intention to restore the normal heart rhythm. However, it is reported that in some cases the devices interpreted the approaching end of life of the patient as an alarm signal and automated electric signals were delivered. In this way the patients might be agonized in their last minutes of life.

Against this background, Claudia Stühler's dissertation project examined under which conditions certain pacemakers may be deactivated. On a general level, Stühler explored the question of how the patients’ autonomy can be ensured in these cases, instead of entrusting end-of-life treatment to increasingly "autonomous" medical systems. The project ("Sterbehilfe bei Cyborgs" - Technische Implantate am Lebensende) is supervised by Prof. Dr. Bijan Fateh-Moghadam.