Wolfgang Waldstein
Universität Salzburg

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In this paper the author, by means of an analysis which makes both use of a
legal-theoretical and a legal-historical insight, argues that 1974 – date in which
Germany and Austria declared the legalization of abortion – can be assumed as
the very symbolic starting point of the decay of the legal culture in Western
Such a legal acceptation of what the authors clearly defines as “killing” is
stressed even further, as in the second part of the paper another motive is
analyzed: the declaration of “brain death”. This one topic in particular perfectly
shows what can be highlighted – in the author’s view – as the cultural
“authorisation to euthanasia”. Brain death – so his argument – is the very way
through which science, instead of seeking truth, construes an unjustifiable
definition in order to serve medical interests, such as the one of organs
In conclusion, this paper, after having provided several examples and scholar
declarations supporting the fallacy of the “brain death” definition, makes the
strong claim of reconsidering the whole matter, particularly with respect to the
many ambiguities involved in it: among these, a special place is reserved to the
unclear position the Catholic Church has been taking in this regard.