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Euthanasia | Definition of Euthanasia by Merriam-Webster

: the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (such as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy

Euthanasia is a mass noun (or noncount noun), that is, a noun used only in the singular form.

The word comes from the Greek euthanatos, which means easy death. In English, euthanasia has been used in exactly this sense since the early seventeenth century, when Francis Bacon described the phenomenon as after the fashion and semblance of a kindly & pleasant sleepe. Nowadays, the word usually refers to the means of attaining such a death.

a physician who refuses to practice euthanasia

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1605, in the meaning defined above

Greek, easy death, from euthanatos, from eu- + thanatos death more at thanatos

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called also mercy killing

called also mercy killing

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Euthanasia | Definition of Euthanasia by Merriam-Webster

Euthanasia | law | Britannica.com

Euthanasia, also called mercy killing, act or practice of painlessly putting to death persons suffering from painful and incurable disease or incapacitating physical disorder or allowing them to die by withholding treatment or withdrawing artificial life-support measures. Because there is no specific provision for it in most legal systems, it is usually regarded as either suicide (if performed by the patient himself) or murder (if performed by another). A physician may, however, lawfully decide not to prolong life in cases of extreme suffering, and he may administer drugs to relieve pain even if this shortens the patients life. In the late 20th century, several European countries had special provisions in their criminal codes for lenient sentencing and the consideration of extenuating circumstances in prosecutions for euthanasia.

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ethics: Abortion, euthanasia, and the value of human life

A number of ethical questions are concerned with the endpoints of the human life span. The question of whether abortion or the use of human

The opinion that euthanasia is morally permissible is traceable to Socrates, Plato, and the Stoics. It is rejected in traditional Christian belief, chiefly because it is thought to contravene the prohibition of murder in the Ten Commandments. The organized movement for legalization of euthanasia commenced in England in 1935, when C. Killick Millard founded the Voluntary Euthanasia Legalisation Society (later called the Euthanasia Society). The societys bill was defeated in the House of Lords in 1936, as was a motion on the same subject in the House of Lords in 1950. In the United States the Euthanasia Society of America was founded in 1938.

The first countries to legalize euthanasia were the Netherlands in 2001 and Belgium in 2002. In 1997 Oregon became the first state in the United States to decriminalize physician-assisted suicide; opponents of the controversial law, however, attempted to have it overturned. In 2009 the Supreme Court of South Korea recognized a right to die with dignity in its decision to approve a request by the family of a brain-dead woman that she be removed from life-support systems.

The potential of modern medical practice to prolong life through technological means has provoked the question of what courses of action should be available to the physician and the family in cases of extreme physical or emotional suffering, especially if the patient is incapable of choice. Passively doing nothing to prolong life or withdrawing life-support measures has resulted in criminal charges being brought against physicians; on the other hand, the families of comatose and apparently terminal patients have instituted legal action against the medical establishment to make them stop the use of extraordinary life support.

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Euthanasia | law | Britannica.com

Euthanasia – ProCon.org

Proponents of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) contend that terminally ill people should have the right to end their suffering with a quick, dignified, and compassionate death. They argue that the right to die is protected by the same constitutional safeguards that guarantee such rights as marriage, procreation, and the refusal or termination of life-saving medical treatment.

Opponents of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide contend that doctors have a moral responsibility to keep their patients alive as reflected by the Hippocratic Oath. They argue there may be a "slippery slope" from euthanasia to murder, and that legalizing euthanasia will unfairly target the poor and disabled and create incentives for insurance companies to terminate lives in order to save money.

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Definitions

Euthanasia in Practice

Legal Right and End-of-Life Documents

American Healthcare System

Physician Involvement in Euthanasia and PAS

Moral Differences in Forms of Assisted Dying

Historical Issues

Opponents of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide contend that doctors have a moral responsibility to keep their patients alive as reflected by the Hippocratic Oath. They argue there may be a "slippery slope" from euthanasia to murder, and that legalizing euthanasia will unfairly target the poor and disabled and create incentives for insurance companies to terminate lives in order to save money.

PROS & CONS BY CATEGORY

CORE QUESTION

Definitions

Euthanasia in Practice

Legal Right and End-of-Life Documents

American Healthcare System

Physician Involvement in Euthanasia and PAS

Moral Differences in Forms of Assisted Dying

Historical Issues

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Euthanasia - ProCon.org

Euthanasia legal definition of euthanasia – Legal Dictionary

[Greek, good death.] The term normally implies an intentional termination of life by another at the explicit request of the person who wishes to die. Euthanasia is generally defined as the act of killing an incurably ill person out of concern and compassion for that person's suffering. It is sometimes called mercy killing, but many advocates of euthanasia define mercy killing more precisely as the ending of another person's life without his or her request. Euthanasia, on the other hand, is usually separated into two categories: passive euthanasia and active euthanasia. In many jurisdictions, active euthanasia can be considered murder or Manslaughter, whereas passive euthanasia is accepted by professional medical societies, and by the law under certain circumstances.

Hastening the death of a person by altering some form of support and letting nature take its course is known as passive euthanasia. Examples include such things as turning off respirators, halting medications, discontinuing food and water so as to allowing a person to dehydrate or starve to death, or failure to resuscitate.

Passive euthanasia also includes giving a patient large doses of morphine to control pain, in spite of the likelihood that the painkiller will suppress respiration and cause death earlier than it otherwise would have happened. Such doses of painkillers have a dual effect of relieving pain and hastening death. Administering such medication is regarded as ethical in most political jurisdictions and by most medical societies.

These procedures are performed on terminally ill, suffering persons so that natural death will occur sooner. They are also commonly performed on persons in a persistent vegetative state; for example, individuals with massive brain damage or in a coma from which they likely will not regain consciousness.

Far more controversial, active euthanasia involves causing the death of a person through a direct action, in response to a request from that person. A well-known example of active euthanasia was the death of a terminally ill Michigan patient on September 17, 1998. On that date, Dr. Jack Kevorkian videotaped himself administering a lethal medication to Thomas Youk, a 52-year-old Michigan man with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. CBS broadcast the videotape on 60 Minutes less than a week later. Authorities subsequently charged Kevorkian with first-degree premeditated murder, criminal assistance of a suicide, and delivery of a controlled substance for administering lethal medication to a terminally ill man. There was no dispute that the dose was administered at the request of Mr. Youk, nor any dispute that Mr. Youk was terminally ill. A jury found Kevorkian guilty of second-degree murder in 1999. He was sent to prison.

Somewhat of a hybrid between passive and active euthanasia is physician-assisted suicide (PAS), also known as voluntary passive euthanasia. In this situation, a physician supplies information and/or the means of committing suicide (e.g., a prescription for lethal dose of sleeping pills, or a supply of carbon monoxide gas) to a person, so that that individual can successfully terminate his or her own life.

Physician-assisted suicide received greater public attention after Dr. Kevorkian, a retired pathologist from Michigan, participated in his first such procedure in 1990. Kevorkian set up a machine that allowed a 54-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease (a degenerative neurological condition) to press a button that delivered a lethal poison into her veins. Kevorkian went on to assist in the suicides of dozens of individuals suffering from terminal, debilitating, or chronic illnesses. In 1992, Michigan passed an assisted-suicide bill (Mich. Comp. Laws 752.1021) that was specifically designed to stop Kevorkian's activities, but technicalities and questions as to its constitutionality delayed its implementation, thus allowing Kevorkian to continue assisting suicidesoften in direct opposition to court injunctions.

Kevorkian was charged with murder several times but was not initially found guilty. When murder charges were brought against him for his first three assisted suicides, for example, they were dismissed because Michigan, at that time, had no law against assisted suicide. In 1994, Kevorkian was tried and found not guilty of assisting in the August 1993 suicide of Thomas W. Hyde Jr. In December 1994, however, Michigan's supreme court ruled in People v. Kevorkian, 447 Mich. 436, 527 N.W. 2d 714, that there is no constitutional right to commit suicide, with or without assistance, and upheld the Michigan statute that made assisted suicide a crime. The following year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Kevorkian's appeal from the state supreme court's ruling.

Observers disagree about the humanity of Kevorkian's activities. Some see him as a hero who sought to give suffering people greater choice and dignity in dying. Others point to his lack of procedural precautions and fear that the widespread practice of assisted suicide will lead to the unnecessary death of people who could have been helped by other means, including treatment for depression. Many opponents of assisted suicide find the same faults in the practice that they see in other forms of euthanasia. They envision its leading to a devaluation of human life and even to a genocidal killing of vulnerable or so-called undesirable individuals.

The U.S. Supreme Court has made two important rulings on assisted suicide. In washington v. glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 117 S.Ct. 2258, 138 L.Ed.2d 772, 65 (1997), three terminally ill patients, four physicians, and a non-profit organization had brought action against the state of Washington for Declaratory Judgment, that a statute banning assisted suicide violated due process clause. On June 26, 1997, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the right of states to prohibit assisted suicide, holding that: (1) asserted right to assistance in committing suicide was not a fundamental liberty interest protected by due process clause, and (2) Washington's ban on assisted suicide was rationally related to legitimate government interests. In Vacco v. Quill, 521 U.S. 793, 117 S.Ct. 2293, 138 L.Ed.2d 834 (1997), physicians challenged the constitutionality of New York statutes making it a crime to aid a person in committing suicide or attempting to commit suicide. The Supreme Court held that New York's prohibition on assisting suicide did not violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The term involuntary euthanasia is used to describe the killing of a person who has not explicitly requested aid in dying. This term is most often used with respect to patients who are in a persistent vegetative state and who probably will never recover consciousness.

Euthanasia is a divisive topic, and different interpretations of its meaning, practice, and morality abound. Those who favor active euthanasia and a patient's right to die, do not acknowledge a distinction between active and passive euthanasia. They assert that the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment cannot be distinguished in principle from affirmative steps to hasten a patient's death. In both situations, they argue, a person intends to cause the patient's death, acts out of compassionate motives, and causes the same outcome. In their view, turning off a life-sustaining respirator switch and giving a lethal injection are morally equivalent actions.

Opponents of active euthanasia argue that it undermines the value of, and respect for, all human life; erodes trust in physicians; desensitizes society to killing; and contradicts many people's religious beliefs. Moreover, they maintain that the intentions and natures of active and passive euthanasia are not essentially the same. In active euthanasia, a person directly intends to cause death and uses available means to achieve this end. In passive euthanasia, a person decides against using a certain form of treatment and then directs that such treatment be withdrawn or withheld, accepting but not intending the patient's death, which is caused by the underlying illness.

While people cite differing reasons for choosing to end their own lives, those suffering from a terminal illness typically state that a serious disorder or disease has adversely affected their quality of life to the point where they no longer wish to continue living. Under such circumstances, patients may have been diagnosed with a degenerative, progressive illness such as ALS, Huntington's disease, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, or Alzheimer's disease. Patients with such illnesses often fear, with good reason, a gradual loss of the quality of life in the future as the disease or disorder progresses, or they might already have lost a good deal of their independence and thus might require continuous care. Some feel that this loss of autonomy causes an unacceptable loss of personal dignity. Others realize that they will be dying in the near future and simply want to have total control over the process. Some point out that in addition to physical considerations, they do not want to diminish their assets by incurring large medical costs as their death approaches. They feel that they ought to have the option to die sooner and to pass on their assets to their beneficiaries.

Imagine that you are suffering from a disease that is terminal, debilitating, and very painful. Should you have the right to die when you wish rather than live in continued agony? Should your doctor be legally free to help you take your own life, perhaps by prescribing some pills and telling you their fatal dosage? Or should the law forbid anyoneincluding doctorsto assist in the suicide of another human being? These are just some of the questions that surround the issue of physician-assisted suicide, a widely debated ethical issue in modern medicine.

Physician-assisted suicide is a form of voluntary euthanasia. In other words, it involves a patient voluntarily acting to end his or her life. Physician-assisted suicide differs from conventional suicide in that it is facilitated by a physician who confirms the patient's diagnosis, rules out conditions such as depression that may be clouding the patient's judgment, and finally provides the means for committing suicide. Such action usually consists of taking a lethal overdose of prescription medication. However, the over 130 patients who were assisted by Dr. Jack Kevorkian between 1990 and 1998 chose to press a button which delivered a lethal poison into their veins, or to put on a mask that emitted carbon monoxide into their lungs. Assisted suicide is a felony offense in most states and is also expressly forbidden in the American Medical Association's (AMA's) Code of Medical Ethics. In 1999, Kevorkian was found guilty of second-degree murder in an assisted suicide case. He was sentenced to serve 10 to 25 years.

The debate surrounding physician-assisted suicide in the United States has been influenced by medical practices in other countries, particularly the Netherlands, which legalized both active euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, in April 2001 (effective 2002). Physician-assisted suicide in the Netherlands is conducted within strict guidelines that include the following requirements: the patient's request for assisted suicide must be voluntary, the patient must be experiencing intolerable suffering, all other alternatives for treatment must have been explored, and the physician must consult another independent physician before proceeding. A study commissioned by the Dutch government indicated that, in 2001, about 3,500 deaths, or 2.5 percent of the 140,000 death cases that were reported in the Netherlands that year, occurred by active euthanasia. The study, known as the Remmelink Report, defined euthanasia as the termination of life at the patient's request. Figures also indicated that 300 deaths, or 0.2 percent, were caused by physician-assisted suicide.

In the United States, the debate on legalizing assisted suicide began in earnest in the 1970s. On one side of the debate have been Patients' Rights groups who have lobbied for what they call the right to dieor the right to choose to die, as some have clarified it of terminally ill patients. The strongest opposition to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide has come from physicians' groups such as the AMA and from religious groups that are morally opposed to the practice.

One person who has done much to make the case for physician-assisted suicide is Derek Humphry, a former journalist who founded the Hemlock Society, in 1980, after seeing the pain and suffering his first wife experienced when she died from cancer. In 2003, the organization changed its name to End-of-Life Choices, which encompasses more clearly the issues supported by its members. With a new name and a new motto, "Dignity Compassion Control," the organization continues to advocate for the right of terminally ill people to choose voluntary euthanasia, or what Humphry has termed self-deliverance.

Humphry has written several books on the subject of voluntary euthanasia, including Jean's Way (1978), which recounts his struggle to assist his wife's death in 1975; Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying (1991), a controversial book that gives detailed advice on how terminally ill people may take their own life; and Lawful Exit: The Limits of Freedom for Help in Dying (1993), which contains Humphry's own recommendations for legislation that would legalize physician-assisted suicide and active voluntary euthanasia. In Humphry's words, the "right to choose to die" is "the ultimate civil liberty."

Humphry presents physician-assisted suicide as a merciful, dignified option for people whose illness has eroded their quality of life beyond the limits of tolerance. He also points out that what he calls beneficent euthanasia occurs every day in medical facilities as physicians make decisions regarding the end of life. Others, including some medical ethicists, go so far as to claim that a decision to withhold antibiotics, oxygen, or nutrition from a terminally ill patient is no less "active" a form of euthanasia than is administering a fatal dose of morphine. Indeed, they see the common practice of withholding life support as more open to potential abuse than the practice of physician-assisted suicide. The former, they argue, is a less visible, less easily regulated decision. Proponents of physician-assisted suicide also claim that diseases kill people in far more cruel ways than would any means of death that a physician might provide for an irreversibly ill patient. As a result, they see the action of assisting in suicide as entirely compatible with the physician's duty to the patient.

However, Humphry has been an open critic of Kevorkian's work. He has described Kevorkian's theory and practice of assisted suicide as open-ended euthanasia. Noting Kevorkian's lack of precautionary measures such as the use of waiting periods and second opinions, Humphry sees any wider application of Kevorkian's methods as potentially leading to abuse and tragedy. "The thinking people in our movement are appalled by it," Humphry said. "If you have Kevorkian's type of euthanasia, it will be a slippery slope. Kevorkian's is a recipe for skiing down a glacier."

Detractors of physician-assisted suicide also use the familiar "slippery slope" argument, proposing that once physician-assisted suicide is legalized, other forms of euthanasia will more likely be practiced as well. They see assisted suicide as potentially leading to situations in which elderly, chronically ill, and handicapped people, along with others, are killed through active, nonvoluntary euthanasia. Related to this idea is the view that widespread practice of physician-assisted suicide might claim the lives of those whose intolerable suffering is caused by treatable depression. They point out that terminally ill people or others in pain are often also suffering from depression, and that despite their illness, their feelings of hopelessness can often be addressed through means such as counseling and antidepressant medication.

The Catholic Church is one of many religious organizations that opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide. In Pope John Paul II's words, medical killings such as those caused by assisted suicide are "crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize." Basing its arguments on passages from the Bible, Catholic theology has for many centuries opposed all forms of suicide. Catholicism argues that innocent human life may not be destroyed for any reason whatsoever.

The debate over physician-assisted suicide eventually reached the Supreme Court. In 1994, an advocacy group known as Compassion in Dying filed two lawsuits (Compassion in Dying et al v. Washington and Quill et al v. Vacco) challenging the constitutionality of state laws banning assisted dying in Washington and New York. Compassion in Dying won in the District Court in Washington. Chief Judge Barbara Rothstein wrote, "There is no more profoundly personal decision, nor one which is closer to the heart of personal liberty, than the choice which a terminally ill person makes to end his or her suffering and hasten an inevitable death." In New York, Compassion in Dying lost and filed an appeal in the Second Circuit.

In 1995, Washington's Compassion ruling was overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, reinstating the anti-suicide law. In 1996, however, after reconsideration, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a reversal decision in Compassion v. Washington. That decision held that assisted dying was protected by liberty and privacy provisions of the U.S. Constitution. The majority wrote that, "Those who believe strongly that death must come without physician assistance are free to follow that creed, be they doctors or patients. They are not free, however, to force their views, their religious convictions, or their philosophies on all the other members of a democratic society, and to compel those whose values differ with theirs to die painful, protracted, and agonizing deaths."

In April 1996, the Second Circuit joined the Ninth in recognizing constitutional protection for assisted dying in the Quill case, holding that the New York statutes criminalizing assisted suicide violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. However, on June 26, 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed both the Ninth and Second Circuit Court in washington v. glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 117 S.Ct. 2258, 138 L.Ed.2d 772 (1997) and Vacco v. Quill, 521 U.S. 743, 117 S.Ct. 2293, 138 L.Ed.2d 834 (1997). The Court ruled that state laws against assisting a suicide are not unconstitutional, but also stated that patients have a right to aggressive treatment of pain and other symptoms, even if the treatment hastens death. The Court wrote, "Throughout the Nation, Americans are engaged in an earnest and profound debate about the morality, legality and practicality of physician assisted suicide. Our holding permits this debate to continue, as it should in a democratic society."

Ultimately then, the voters and representatives of the states and the legal system itself will have to decide whether or not physician-assisted suicide will be legalized. Regardless of what side prevails in the debate, the exchange of ideas that it creates may lead to a greater understanding of the difficult choices surrounding death in our time.

Cohen-Almagor, Raphael. 2001. The Right to Die With Dignity: An Argument in Ethics, Medicine, and Law. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers Univ. Press.

End of Life Choices. Available online at (accessed August 25, 2003).

Hendin, Herbert. 2002. "The Dutch Experience." Issues in Law & Medicine (spring).

Death and Dying; Physicians and Surgeons.

Some patients who decide that they wish to commit suicide are unable or unwilling to accomplish the act without assistance from their physician. Physician-assisted suicide helps them to die under conditions, and at the time, that they wish. PAS is currently legal in the U.S., only in the state of Oregon, under severe restrictions. In other states, a terminally ill patient who wishes to die must continue living until their body eventually collapses, or until a family member or friend commits a criminal act by helping them to commit suicide.

Traditional Christian beliefs concerning all forms of suicide were well documented by Thomas Aquinas during the thirteenth century. He condemned all suicide (whether assisted or not) on the theory that it violated one's natural desire to live. Among European writers, Michel de Montaigne was the first major dissenter on this issue. During the sixteenth century, he wrote a series of essays arguing that suicide should be a matter of personal choice, a human right. He concluded it to be a rational option under certain circumstances.

Attempting to commit suicide was once a criminal act. It has been decriminalized for many decades in most jurisdictions. However, assisted suicide remains a criminal act throughout the United States, with the exception of the state of Oregon. In that state, it is permitted under tightly controlled conditions.

In 1994, voters in the state of Oregon approved a ballot measure that would have legalized euthanasia under limited conditions. Under the Death With Dignity law, a person who sought physician-assisted suicide would have to meet certain criteria:

Under the proposed law, a person who met all requirements could receive a prescription of a barbiturate that would be sufficient to cause death. Physicians would be prohibited from inducing death by injection or carbon monoxide.

The National Right to Life Committee, supported by the Roman Catholic Church, obtained a court Injunction to delay implementation of the measure. The law stalled in the appeals process. In the meantime, the measure was not enacted. In 1997, there was a second public Referendum, and the law was enacted. Within 24 hours of the announcement of the results, state officials had forms for physicians to record instances of assisted suicide. These were later distributed to physicians in the state. The form is entitled "Request for Medication to End My Life in a Humane and Dignified Manner."

Immediately after the law was affirmed, Thomas Constantine, the administrator of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), wrote a policy statement which said that prescribing drugs to help terminally ill patients kill themselves would be a violation of the Controlled Substances Act. Nevertheless, on March 26, 1998, a woman in her mid-eighties died from a lethal dose of barbiturates, which had been prescribed by her doctor under the Oregon law. She was the first person to publicly use the law to commit suicide. She had been fighting breast cancer for 20 years and recently had been told by her doctor that she had less than two months to live. She had been experiencing increased difficulty breathing. She made a tape recording in which she stated, "I'm looking forward to it. I will be relieved of all the stress I have." Her personal doctor would not help her end her life, so she turned to an advocacy group, Compassion in Dying. That group located a doctor to assist her. She fell into a deep sleep about five minutes after taking the lethal dose of pills, and she died peacefully about 25 minutes later. Attorney General Janet Reno officially reversed Constantine's ruling a few weeks later, stating that doctors who use the law to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients will not be prosecuted and that drug laws were intended to block illegal trafficking in drugs, not to cover situations like the Oregon suicide law.

Despite significant controversy, by the end of 1998, one prediction of the anti-choice forces had not materialized: there was no rush of people to Oregon to seek an easy end to life. While it was predicted that many would take advantage of the law, of the 23 terminally ill individuals who applied to end their own lives in 1998, 15 committed suicide, usually within a day of receiving the prescription. Six died from their illnesses without using the medication. Two remained alive at the end of 1998. From 1998 to 2002, 129 people have opted for physician assisted suicide.

In early 2001, Oregon state senator Ron Wyden wrote Attorney General john ashcroft asking that the george w. bush administration not mount an attack on the state law permitting assistance in suicide. Ashcroft wrote a letter to Asa Hutchinson, chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration. He declared that assisting a terminally ill patient to commit suicide is not a "legitimate medical purpose" for federally controlled drugs. He said that physicians who use drugs to help patients die face suspension or revocation of their licenses to prescribe federally controlled drugs. This was contrary to the position taken by Janet Reno, his predecessor. The attorney general of Oregon, Hardy Myers, quickly initiated a lawsuit to have the Ashcroft's directive declared unconstitutional. The federal district court in Oregon issued a temporary injunction, which prevents the federal government from enforcing Ashcroft's interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The state of Oregon requested that the court block the federal department of justice from taking legal action against Oregon doctors who prescribe medication to help their patients commit suicide. A federal judge ruled in favor of the state law in 2002, and the Department of Justice appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Both sides have stated that they will appeal the decision if they lose.

According to the online website, Euthanasia.com, 35 states have legislated against assisted suicide, while nine other states have cited it as a crime under Common Law. Still more states have introduced or passed statutes criminalizing assisted suicide. These statutes forbid a person to knowingly assist or aid another in committing suicide. Some also prohibit soliciting, advising, or encouraging another to commit suicide. Some statutes penalize assisted suicide under guidelines established for murder or manslaughter, whereas others make it a unique offense with separate penalties. Few courts have interpreted the assisted-suicide statutes, because prosecutions for assisted suicide are rare. In cases of assisted suicide, a state usually prosecutes individuals for murder or manslaughter. The Ohio state supreme court, however, ruled in 1996 that assisted suicide is not a crime.

Behuniak, Susan M. 2003. Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Anatomy of a Constitutional Law Issue. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield.

Dyck, Arthur J. 2001. When Killing Is Wrong: Physician-Assisted Suicide and the Courts. Cleveland, Ohio: Pilgrim Press.

Euthanasia.com. Available online at (accessed November 10, 2003).

Palmer, Larry I. 2000. Endings and Beginnings: Law, Medicine, and Society in Assisted Life and Death. Westport, Conn.: Praeger.

Death and Dying.

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Euthanasia legal definition of euthanasia - Legal Dictionary

Euthanasia | definition of euthanasia by Medical dictionary

euthanasia[uthah-nazhah]

1. an easy or painless death.

1. A quiet, painless death.

2. The intentional putting to death of a person with an incurable or painful disease intended as an act of mercy.

[eu- + G. thanatos, death]

1. an easy or painless death.

2. mercy killing; the deliberate ending of life of a person suffering from an incurable disease.

The act or practice of ending the life of a person or animal having a terminal illness or a medical condition that causes suffering perceived as incompatible with an acceptable quality of life, as by lethal injection or the suspension of certain medical treatments.

Etymology: Gk, eu, good; thanatos, death

2 an easy, quiet, painless death.

1. The intentional putting to death of a person with an incurable or painful disease, intended as an act of mercy.

[eu- + G. thanatos, death]

The act of putting a person or animal to death painlessly or allowing them to die by withholding medical services, usually because of a painful and incurable disease. Mercy killing is another term for euthanasia.

n the act of facilitating death in a terminally ill patient, whether by deliberate activity, such as the administration of drugs that hasten death (known as active euthanasia), or passive, as in the withholding of life-extending treatment (passive euthanasia).

1. A quiet, painless death.

2. The intentional putting to death of a person with an incurable or painful disease intended as an act of mercy.

[eu- + G. thanatos, death]

(thnzh), n an act of deliberately bringing about the death of a person who is suffering from an incurable disease or condition; also called mercy killing. Active euthanasia is illegal in most jurisdictions; passive euthanasia, or the withholding of some life support systems, has legal standing in some jurisdictions.

1. an easy or painless death.

2. the deliberate ending of life of an animal suffering from an incurable disease; called also mercy killing, to put down, to put to sleep.

For the individual animal intravenous injection of a massive dose of barbiturate is best. Any narcotizing drug creates difficulties if the carcass is to be disposed of for pet meat. In those cases shooting with a bullet or captive bolt pistol is recommended because of the speed of the despatch. For large numbers of animals at a pound or shelter, injection procedures are still superior to the bulk methods which all have the fallibility of poorly managed and supervised machinery. Carbon monoxide is very fast but dangerous to the operators of the cabinet. Electrocution cannot be performed en masse and gassing with carbon monoxide or lowering of the atmospheric pressure are not really quick enough. Small laboratory animals are still despatched by a sharp blow to the head and birds by guillotine or separation of the cervical vertebrae.

uses mains electrical current passed through the subject's body via clips applied to the skin of the ear and the tail. Not much employed because of danger to human operators, likelihood of equipment failure and need for close contact with device.

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Euthanasia | definition of euthanasia by Medical dictionary

Euthanasia – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Euthanasia is when a person's life is ended because of disease or pain, which has made them suffer. This is different from assisted suicide, where a person helps someone kill themselves. It is also different to murder, where the reason is not suffering, but to kill for the killer's own ends. Euthanasia can be voluntary, where the person who dies asks for help in ending their life. Where the person is unable to make their decision known, it is usually called non-voluntary euthanasia. Where someone is killed against their will, it is usually called murder.

Euthanasia is illegal in most countries. It is permitted in a small number of countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Victoria, Australia.[1] Where it is permitted there are many rules, and only in cases where the patient is terminally ill. Though euthanasia is not legal in the United States, doctors can assist people to kill themselves. This is legal in Washington, Oregon, and Montana. Physician Assisted Suicide (PAD) is different to euthanasia; it is about who gives the medication to end a patients life. The World Federation of Right to Die Societies says physician-assisted suicide means "making lethal means available to the patient to be used at a time of the patients own choosing." In these cases the patient takes the legal dose of poison themselves, it is not given by the doctor. It is euthanasia when the doctor has the main role in ending the patients life by giving the poison.

Euthanasia can be active or passive, and voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary. Many people see important differences and they can accept some types but not others.

Passive euthanasia means letting a person die. A terminally ill person is allowed to die, even if treatment could help them to live longer. This includes removing life support, such as a ventilator which is being used to keep the person alive, or by not giving them food or water. Active euthanasia means doing something to end a person's life. This could be giving them an injection or pills that will cause their death.[2]

Some people see passive euthanasia as a more acceptable choice, because it is not a deliberate act to kill. However, others argue that once someone has decided to allow another person to die, they should make it as fast and as painless as possible, and then act to bring about their death. This is also known as mercy killing.[3]

Voluntary euthanasia is when someone asks to be allowed to die or to be killed. This is often seen as the best option by people who believe in euthanasia, because it is clear that the person wants to die. If the person can not say that they want to die, but people think that they would ask to die if they could, then it is non-voluntary euthanasia. Non-voluntary euthanasia is a choice for people who are in a coma or who are very young, as they can not say what they want. Involuntary euthanasia is when someone is killed even though they asked not to die, or when they could have asked to die but did not.[4] Many people think that this is murder, not euthanasia.[5]

These types of euthanasia can be mixed. If someone asks to die, and another person gives them an injection that will kill them, then it is active voluntary euthanasia. Someone in a coma who is kept alive with a ventilator, and the doctors turn it off and they die, would be passive non-voluntary euthanasia.[6]

Some people believe that euthanasia should be allowed, and some people think that it should not.

Some people believe that allowing euthanasia will result in bad things happening. If it is allowed for people asking to die, then it might be allowed for people who are very sick but are not able to ask to die. If that happens, then maybe it would be allowed for people who are very sick and will not recover, but do not want to die. This is called the "slippery slope" argument.[7]

People who believe in the slippery slope argument point to times when this happened. In Germany, Adolf Hitler allowed disabled children to be killed, and called it euthanasia. People now agree that this was wrong, but if euthanasia was allowed it could happen again. They think it is too big a risk to allow euthanasia at all.[7]

Other people say there is a big difference between killing a very sick person who asks to die, and killing a child with a disability. They do not think euthanasia will lead to bad things. They say that Hitler's actions were not euthanasia.[7]

The American Medical Association (AMA) and other doctors believe it is a doctor's role to help, not kill people.[source?] In one study 76% of doctors said they would not carry out euthanasia, even if it was legal.[source?] They feel patients would not trust them. In the Netherlands where euthanasia is legal, 60% of older people in one study were scared that their their doctors would kill them.[source?]

Palliative care is when people who are ill and going to die are given special care to make them more comfortable. It may include hospice care, when the patient is sent to a special hospital for people who are dying. Palliative care can involve pain relief and help for the patient and family to come to terms with death. In some cases, doctors will give patient drugs which make them stay asleep, so that they will not feel pain.[8][9]

Palliative care is not perfect, and so it is not always seen as a replacement for euthanasia. There is still some pain, and there can be other side-effects, where the patient can still feel very sick. Palliative care is not available for all people, and not all people who wish to die through euthanasia are so sick that they will die soon. Some people have healthy bodies, but they are suffering in other ways, and palliative care will not always help them.[7]

The principle of double effect was first described by Thomas Aquinas over 700 years ago. It says that it is sometimes alright to do a bad thing if something good happens, and if a bad ending was not wanted.[10] Aquinas used the example of self defense: sometimes a person will kill someone who attacks them, but killing was not what the person was trying to do. They only wanted to protect themselves. So even though killing someone is bad, wanting to protect themselves was not.[11]

Some people say that doctors may treat a person to reduce the their pain, and as a result the person will die sooner. If the doctor gives the treatment in order to help the patient die, then it is euthanasia. But if the doctor gives the treatment in order to stop the pain, and does not intend for the patient to die, then it may not be euthanasia, even if the doctor knew that the treatment would kill the patient.[11]

Suicide is when a person kills themselves. Sometimes when a person is very sick they need help to die, and this is called assisted suicide.[12] In some countries people are allowed to help as long as they do not kill the person,[13] and it can be seen as a more acceptable option because it must be the person's own decision.[12] Because the assisting person did not kill, it is not always considered to be euthanasia. [7]

[1]

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Euthanasia - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Euthanasia | American Medical Association

Code of Medical Ethics Opinion 5.8

Euthanasia is the administration of a lethal agent by another person to a patient for the purpose of relieving the patients intolerable and incurable suffering.

It is understandable, though tragic, that some patients in extreme duresssuch as those suffering from a terminal, painful, debilitating illnessmay come to decide that death is preferable to life.

However, permitting physicians to engage in euthanasia would ultimately cause more harm than good.

Euthanasia is fundamentally incompatible with the physicians role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks. Euthanasia could readily be extended to incompetent patients and other vulnerable populations.

The involvement of physicians in euthanasia heightens the significance of its ethical prohibition. The physician who performs euthanasia assumes unique responsibility for the act of ending the patients life.

Instead of engaging in euthanasia, physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life. Physicians:

(a) Should not abandon a patient once it is determined that a cure is impossible.

(b) Must respect patient autonomy.

(c) Must provide good communication and emotional support.

(d) Must provide appropriate comfort care and adequate pain control.

Code of Medical Ethics:Caring for Patients at the End of Life

Visit theEthics main pageto access additional Opinions, the Principles of Medical Ethics and more information about the Code of Medical Ethics.

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Euthanasia | American Medical Association

euthanasia – Dictionary Definition : Vocabulary.com

Euthanasia is the act of causing a person's or animal's death, without inflicting pain, to end suffering, like when a veterinarian performs euthanasia on a dog that is in great pain and has no chance of recovery.

To correctly pronounce euthanasia, remember that it sounds like "youth in Asia." Euthanasia is sometimes referred to as mercy killing, meant to spare a living thing a slow, painful death. Originally a Greek word, euthanasia means "an easy or happy death," as eu- means "good" and thanatos means "death." The use of the word as "legally sanctioned mercy killing" is first recorded in English in 1869.

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euthanasia - Dictionary Definition : Vocabulary.com

Euthanasia – definition of euthanasia by The Free Dictionary

The act or practice of ending the life of a person or animal having a terminal illness or a medical condition that causes suffering perceived as incompatible with an acceptable quality of life, as by lethal injection or the suspension of certain medical treatments.

[Greek euthanasi, a good death : eu-, eu- + thanatos, death.]

(Medicine) the act of killing someone painlessly, esp to relieve suffering from an incurable illness. Also called: mercy killing

[C17: via New Latin from Greek: easy death, from eu- + thanatos death]

n.

[164050; < New Latin < Greek euthanasa easy death]

1. the act of putting to death without pain a person incurably ill or suffering great pain; mercy killing.2. an easy, painless death. euthanasic, adj.

the deliberate killing of painfully ill or terminally ill people to put them out of their misery. Also called mercy killing.

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:

Translations

eutanasimedlidenhedsdrab

eutanzia

lknardrp

eutanazijaneskausmingas numarinimas

eitanzija

eutanzia

tenazitatl lm

n. eutanasia, muerte infringida sin sufrimiento en casos de una enfermedad incurable.

euthanasia n eutanasia

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Euthanasia - definition of euthanasia by The Free Dictionary

Euthanasia, passive legal definition of Euthanasia, passive

[Greek, good death.] The term normally implies an intentional termination of life by another at the explicit request of the person who wishes to die. Euthanasia is generally defined as the act of killing an incurably ill person out of concern and compassion for that person's suffering. It is sometimes called mercy killing, but many advocates of euthanasia define mercy killing more precisely as the ending of another person's life without his or her request. Euthanasia, on the other hand, is usually separated into two categories: passive euthanasia and active euthanasia. In many jurisdictions, active euthanasia can be considered murder or Manslaughter, whereas passive euthanasia is accepted by professional medical societies, and by the law under certain circumstances.

Hastening the death of a person by altering some form of support and letting nature take its course is known as passive euthanasia. Examples include such things as turning off respirators, halting medications, discontinuing food and water so as to allowing a person to dehydrate or starve to death, or failure to resuscitate.

Passive euthanasia also includes giving a patient large doses of morphine to control pain, in spite of the likelihood that the painkiller will suppress respiration and cause death earlier than it otherwise would have happened. Such doses of painkillers have a dual effect of relieving pain and hastening death. Administering such medication is regarded as ethical in most political jurisdictions and by most medical societies.

These procedures are performed on terminally ill, suffering persons so that natural death will occur sooner. They are also commonly performed on persons in a persistent vegetative state; for example, individuals with massive brain damage or in a coma from which they likely will not regain consciousness.

Far more controversial, active euthanasia involves causing the death of a person through a direct action, in response to a request from that person. A well-known example of active euthanasia was the death of a terminally ill Michigan patient on September 17, 1998. On that date, Dr. Jack Kevorkian videotaped himself administering a lethal medication to Thomas Youk, a 52-year-old Michigan man with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. CBS broadcast the videotape on 60 Minutes less than a week later. Authorities subsequently charged Kevorkian with first-degree premeditated murder, criminal assistance of a suicide, and delivery of a controlled substance for administering lethal medication to a terminally ill man. There was no dispute that the dose was administered at the request of Mr. Youk, nor any dispute that Mr. Youk was terminally ill. A jury found Kevorkian guilty of second-degree murder in 1999. He was sent to prison.

Somewhat of a hybrid between passive and active euthanasia is physician-assisted suicide (PAS), also known as voluntary passive euthanasia. In this situation, a physician supplies information and/or the means of committing suicide (e.g., a prescription for lethal dose of sleeping pills, or a supply of carbon monoxide gas) to a person, so that that individual can successfully terminate his or her own life.

Physician-assisted suicide received greater public attention after Dr. Kevorkian, a retired pathologist from Michigan, participated in his first such procedure in 1990. Kevorkian set up a machine that allowed a 54-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease (a degenerative neurological condition) to press a button that delivered a lethal poison into her veins. Kevorkian went on to assist in the suicides of dozens of individuals suffering from terminal, debilitating, or chronic illnesses. In 1992, Michigan passed an assisted-suicide bill (Mich. Comp. Laws 752.1021) that was specifically designed to stop Kevorkian's activities, but technicalities and questions as to its constitutionality delayed its implementation, thus allowing Kevorkian to continue assisting suicidesoften in direct opposition to court injunctions.

Kevorkian was charged with murder several times but was not initially found guilty. When murder charges were brought against him for his first three assisted suicides, for example, they were dismissed because Michigan, at that time, had no law against assisted suicide. In 1994, Kevorkian was tried and found not guilty of assisting in the August 1993 suicide of Thomas W. Hyde Jr. In December 1994, however, Michigan's supreme court ruled in People v. Kevorkian, 447 Mich. 436, 527 N.W. 2d 714, that there is no constitutional right to commit suicide, with or without assistance, and upheld the Michigan statute that made assisted suicide a crime. The following year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Kevorkian's appeal from the state supreme court's ruling.

Observers disagree about the humanity of Kevorkian's activities. Some see him as a hero who sought to give suffering people greater choice and dignity in dying. Others point to his lack of procedural precautions and fear that the widespread practice of assisted suicide will lead to the unnecessary death of people who could have been helped by other means, including treatment for depression. Many opponents of assisted suicide find the same faults in the practice that they see in other forms of euthanasia. They envision its leading to a devaluation of human life and even to a genocidal killing of vulnerable or so-called undesirable individuals.

The U.S. Supreme Court has made two important rulings on assisted suicide. In washington v. glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 117 S.Ct. 2258, 138 L.Ed.2d 772, 65 (1997), three terminally ill patients, four physicians, and a non-profit organization had brought action against the state of Washington for Declaratory Judgment, that a statute banning assisted suicide violated due process clause. On June 26, 1997, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the right of states to prohibit assisted suicide, holding that: (1) asserted right to assistance in committing suicide was not a fundamental liberty interest protected by due process clause, and (2) Washington's ban on assisted suicide was rationally related to legitimate government interests. In Vacco v. Quill, 521 U.S. 793, 117 S.Ct. 2293, 138 L.Ed.2d 834 (1997), physicians challenged the constitutionality of New York statutes making it a crime to aid a person in committing suicide or attempting to commit suicide. The Supreme Court held that New York's prohibition on assisting suicide did not violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The term involuntary euthanasia is used to describe the killing of a person who has not explicitly requested aid in dying. This term is most often used with respect to patients who are in a persistent vegetative state and who probably will never recover consciousness.

Euthanasia is a divisive topic, and different interpretations of its meaning, practice, and morality abound. Those who favor active euthanasia and a patient's right to die, do not acknowledge a distinction between active and passive euthanasia. They assert that the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment cannot be distinguished in principle from affirmative steps to hasten a patient's death. In both situations, they argue, a person intends to cause the patient's death, acts out of compassionate motives, and causes the same outcome. In their view, turning off a life-sustaining respirator switch and giving a lethal injection are morally equivalent actions.

Opponents of active euthanasia argue that it undermines the value of, and respect for, all human life; erodes trust in physicians; desensitizes society to killing; and contradicts many people's religious beliefs. Moreover, they maintain that the intentions and natures of active and passive euthanasia are not essentially the same. In active euthanasia, a person directly intends to cause death and uses available means to achieve this end. In passive euthanasia, a person decides against using a certain form of treatment and then directs that such treatment be withdrawn or withheld, accepting but not intending the patient's death, which is caused by the underlying illness.

While people cite differing reasons for choosing to end their own lives, those suffering from a terminal illness typically state that a serious disorder or disease has adversely affected their quality of life to the point where they no longer wish to continue living. Under such circumstances, patients may have been diagnosed with a degenerative, progressive illness such as ALS, Huntington's disease, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, or Alzheimer's disease. Patients with such illnesses often fear, with good reason, a gradual loss of the quality of life in the future as the disease or disorder progresses, or they might already have lost a good deal of their independence and thus might require continuous care. Some feel that this loss of autonomy causes an unacceptable loss of personal dignity. Others realize that they will be dying in the near future and simply want to have total control over the process. Some point out that in addition to physical considerations, they do not want to diminish their assets by incurring large medical costs as their death approaches. They feel that they ought to have the option to die sooner and to pass on their assets to their beneficiaries.

Imagine that you are suffering from a disease that is terminal, debilitating, and very painful. Should you have the right to die when you wish rather than live in continued agony? Should your doctor be legally free to help you take your own life, perhaps by prescribing some pills and telling you their fatal dosage? Or should the law forbid anyoneincluding doctorsto assist in the suicide of another human being? These are just some of the questions that surround the issue of physician-assisted suicide, a widely debated ethical issue in modern medicine.

Physician-assisted suicide is a form of voluntary euthanasia. In other words, it involves a patient voluntarily acting to end his or her life. Physician-assisted suicide differs from conventional suicide in that it is facilitated by a physician who confirms the patient's diagnosis, rules out conditions such as depression that may be clouding the patient's judgment, and finally provides the means for committing suicide. Such action usually consists of taking a lethal overdose of prescription medication. However, the over 130 patients who were assisted by Dr. Jack Kevorkian between 1990 and 1998 chose to press a button which delivered a lethal poison into their veins, or to put on a mask that emitted carbon monoxide into their lungs. Assisted suicide is a felony offense in most states and is also expressly forbidden in the American Medical Association's (AMA's) Code of Medical Ethics. In 1999, Kevorkian was found guilty of second-degree murder in an assisted suicide case. He was sentenced to serve 10 to 25 years.

The debate surrounding physician-assisted suicide in the United States has been influenced by medical practices in other countries, particularly the Netherlands, which legalized both active euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, in April 2001 (effective 2002). Physician-assisted suicide in the Netherlands is conducted within strict guidelines that include the following requirements: the patient's request for assisted suicide must be voluntary, the patient must be experiencing intolerable suffering, all other alternatives for treatment must have been explored, and the physician must consult another independent physician before proceeding. A study commissioned by the Dutch government indicated that, in 2001, about 3,500 deaths, or 2.5 percent of the 140,000 death cases that were reported in the Netherlands that year, occurred by active euthanasia. The study, known as the Remmelink Report, defined euthanasia as the termination of life at the patient's request. Figures also indicated that 300 deaths, or 0.2 percent, were caused by physician-assisted suicide.

In the United States, the debate on legalizing assisted suicide began in earnest in the 1970s. On one side of the debate have been Patients' Rights groups who have lobbied for what they call the right to dieor the right to choose to die, as some have clarified it of terminally ill patients. The strongest opposition to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide has come from physicians' groups such as the AMA and from religious groups that are morally opposed to the practice.

One person who has done much to make the case for physician-assisted suicide is Derek Humphry, a former journalist who founded the Hemlock Society, in 1980, after seeing the pain and suffering his first wife experienced when she died from cancer. In 2003, the organization changed its name to End-of-Life Choices, which encompasses more clearly the issues supported by its members. With a new name and a new motto, "Dignity Compassion Control," the organization continues to advocate for the right of terminally ill people to choose voluntary euthanasia, or what Humphry has termed self-deliverance.

Humphry has written several books on the subject of voluntary euthanasia, including Jean's Way (1978), which recounts his struggle to assist his wife's death in 1975; Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying (1991), a controversial book that gives detailed advice on how terminally ill people may take their own life; and Lawful Exit: The Limits of Freedom for Help in Dying (1993), which contains Humphry's own recommendations for legislation that would legalize physician-assisted suicide and active voluntary euthanasia. In Humphry's words, the "right to choose to die" is "the ultimate civil liberty."

Humphry presents physician-assisted suicide as a merciful, dignified option for people whose illness has eroded their quality of life beyond the limits of tolerance. He also points out that what he calls beneficent euthanasia occurs every day in medical facilities as physicians make decisions regarding the end of life. Others, including some medical ethicists, go so far as to claim that a decision to withhold antibiotics, oxygen, or nutrition from a terminally ill patient is no less "active" a form of euthanasia than is administering a fatal dose of morphine. Indeed, they see the common practice of withholding life support as more open to potential abuse than the practice of physician-assisted suicide. The former, they argue, is a less visible, less easily regulated decision. Proponents of physician-assisted suicide also claim that diseases kill people in far more cruel ways than would any means of death that a physician might provide for an irreversibly ill patient. As a result, they see the action of assisting in suicide as entirely compatible with the physician's duty to the patient.

However, Humphry has been an open critic of Kevorkian's work. He has described Kevorkian's theory and practice of assisted suicide as open-ended euthanasia. Noting Kevorkian's lack of precautionary measures such as the use of waiting periods and second opinions, Humphry sees any wider application of Kevorkian's methods as potentially leading to abuse and tragedy. "The thinking people in our movement are appalled by it," Humphry said. "If you have Kevorkian's type of euthanasia, it will be a slippery slope. Kevorkian's is a recipe for skiing down a glacier."

Detractors of physician-assisted suicide also use the familiar "slippery slope" argument, proposing that once physician-assisted suicide is legalized, other forms of euthanasia will more likely be practiced as well. They see assisted suicide as potentially leading to situations in which elderly, chronically ill, and handicapped people, along with others, are killed through active, nonvoluntary euthanasia. Related to this idea is the view that widespread practice of physician-assisted suicide might claim the lives of those whose intolerable suffering is caused by treatable depression. They point out that terminally ill people or others in pain are often also suffering from depression, and that despite their illness, their feelings of hopelessness can often be addressed through means such as counseling and antidepressant medication.

The Catholic Church is one of many religious organizations that opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide. In Pope John Paul II's words, medical killings such as those caused by assisted suicide are "crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize." Basing its arguments on passages from the Bible, Catholic theology has for many centuries opposed all forms of suicide. Catholicism argues that innocent human life may not be destroyed for any reason whatsoever.

The debate over physician-assisted suicide eventually reached the Supreme Court. In 1994, an advocacy group known as Compassion in Dying filed two lawsuits (Compassion in Dying et al v. Washington and Quill et al v. Vacco) challenging the constitutionality of state laws banning assisted dying in Washington and New York. Compassion in Dying won in the District Court in Washington. Chief Judge Barbara Rothstein wrote, "There is no more profoundly personal decision, nor one which is closer to the heart of personal liberty, than the choice which a terminally ill person makes to end his or her suffering and hasten an inevitable death." In New York, Compassion in Dying lost and filed an appeal in the Second Circuit.

In 1995, Washington's Compassion ruling was overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, reinstating the anti-suicide law. In 1996, however, after reconsideration, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a reversal decision in Compassion v. Washington. That decision held that assisted dying was protected by liberty and privacy provisions of the U.S. Constitution. The majority wrote that, "Those who believe strongly that death must come without physician assistance are free to follow that creed, be they doctors or patients. They are not free, however, to force their views, their religious convictions, or their philosophies on all the other members of a democratic society, and to compel those whose values differ with theirs to die painful, protracted, and agonizing deaths."

In April 1996, the Second Circuit joined the Ninth in recognizing constitutional protection for assisted dying in the Quill case, holding that the New York statutes criminalizing assisted suicide violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. However, on June 26, 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed both the Ninth and Second Circuit Court in washington v. glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 117 S.Ct. 2258, 138 L.Ed.2d 772 (1997) and Vacco v. Quill, 521 U.S. 743, 117 S.Ct. 2293, 138 L.Ed.2d 834 (1997). The Court ruled that state laws against assisting a suicide are not unconstitutional, but also stated that patients have a right to aggressive treatment of pain and other symptoms, even if the treatment hastens death. The Court wrote, "Throughout the Nation, Americans are engaged in an earnest and profound debate about the morality, legality and practicality of physician assisted suicide. Our holding permits this debate to continue, as it should in a democratic society."

Ultimately then, the voters and representatives of the states and the legal system itself will have to decide whether or not physician-assisted suicide will be legalized. Regardless of what side prevails in the debate, the exchange of ideas that it creates may lead to a greater understanding of the difficult choices surrounding death in our time.

Cohen-Almagor, Raphael. 2001. The Right to Die With Dignity: An Argument in Ethics, Medicine, and Law. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers Univ. Press.

End of Life Choices. Available online at (accessed August 25, 2003).

Hendin, Herbert. 2002. "The Dutch Experience." Issues in Law & Medicine (spring).

Death and Dying; Physicians and Surgeons.

Some patients who decide that they wish to commit suicide are unable or unwilling to accomplish the act without assistance from their physician. Physician-assisted suicide helps them to die under conditions, and at the time, that they wish. PAS is currently legal in the U.S., only in the state of Oregon, under severe restrictions. In other states, a terminally ill patient who wishes to die must continue living until their body eventually collapses, or until a family member or friend commits a criminal act by helping them to commit suicide.

Traditional Christian beliefs concerning all forms of suicide were well documented by Thomas Aquinas during the thirteenth century. He condemned all suicide (whether assisted or not) on the theory that it violated one's natural desire to live. Among European writers, Michel de Montaigne was the first major dissenter on this issue. During the sixteenth century, he wrote a series of essays arguing that suicide should be a matter of personal choice, a human right. He concluded it to be a rational option under certain circumstances.

Attempting to commit suicide was once a criminal act. It has been decriminalized for many decades in most jurisdictions. However, assisted suicide remains a criminal act throughout the United States, with the exception of the state of Oregon. In that state, it is permitted under tightly controlled conditions.

In 1994, voters in the state of Oregon approved a ballot measure that would have legalized euthanasia under limited conditions. Under the Death With Dignity law, a person who sought physician-assisted suicide would have to meet certain criteria:

Under the proposed law, a person who met all requirements could receive a prescription of a barbiturate that would be sufficient to cause death. Physicians would be prohibited from inducing death by injection or carbon monoxide.

The National Right to Life Committee, supported by the Roman Catholic Church, obtained a court Injunction to delay implementation of the measure. The law stalled in the appeals process. In the meantime, the measure was not enacted. In 1997, there was a second public Referendum, and the law was enacted. Within 24 hours of the announcement of the results, state officials had forms for physicians to record instances of assisted suicide. These were later distributed to physicians in the state. The form is entitled "Request for Medication to End My Life in a Humane and Dignified Manner."

Immediately after the law was affirmed, Thomas Constantine, the administrator of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), wrote a policy statement which said that prescribing drugs to help terminally ill patients kill themselves would be a violation of the Controlled Substances Act. Nevertheless, on March 26, 1998, a woman in her mid-eighties died from a lethal dose of barbiturates, which had been prescribed by her doctor under the Oregon law. She was the first person to publicly use the law to commit suicide. She had been fighting breast cancer for 20 years and recently had been told by her doctor that she had less than two months to live. She had been experiencing increased difficulty breathing. She made a tape recording in which she stated, "I'm looking forward to it. I will be relieved of all the stress I have." Her personal doctor would not help her end her life, so she turned to an advocacy group, Compassion in Dying. That group located a doctor to assist her. She fell into a deep sleep about five minutes after taking the lethal dose of pills, and she died peacefully about 25 minutes later. Attorney General Janet Reno officially reversed Constantine's ruling a few weeks later, stating that doctors who use the law to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients will not be prosecuted and that drug laws were intended to block illegal trafficking in drugs, not to cover situations like the Oregon suicide law.

Despite significant controversy, by the end of 1998, one prediction of the anti-choice forces had not materialized: there was no rush of people to Oregon to seek an easy end to life. While it was predicted that many would take advantage of the law, of the 23 terminally ill individuals who applied to end their own lives in 1998, 15 committed suicide, usually within a day of receiving the prescription. Six died from their illnesses without using the medication. Two remained alive at the end of 1998. From 1998 to 2002, 129 people have opted for physician assisted suicide.

In early 2001, Oregon state senator Ron Wyden wrote Attorney General john ashcroft asking that the george w. bush administration not mount an attack on the state law permitting assistance in suicide. Ashcroft wrote a letter to Asa Hutchinson, chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration. He declared that assisting a terminally ill patient to commit suicide is not a "legitimate medical purpose" for federally controlled drugs. He said that physicians who use drugs to help patients die face suspension or revocation of their licenses to prescribe federally controlled drugs. This was contrary to the position taken by Janet Reno, his predecessor. The attorney general of Oregon, Hardy Myers, quickly initiated a lawsuit to have the Ashcroft's directive declared unconstitutional. The federal district court in Oregon issued a temporary injunction, which prevents the federal government from enforcing Ashcroft's interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The state of Oregon requested that the court block the federal department of justice from taking legal action against Oregon doctors who prescribe medication to help their patients commit suicide. A federal judge ruled in favor of the state law in 2002, and the Department of Justice appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Both sides have stated that they will appeal the decision if they lose.

According to the online website, Euthanasia.com, 35 states have legislated against assisted suicide, while nine other states have cited it as a crime under Common Law. Still more states have introduced or passed statutes criminalizing assisted suicide. These statutes forbid a person to knowingly assist or aid another in committing suicide. Some also prohibit soliciting, advising, or encouraging another to commit suicide. Some statutes penalize assisted suicide under guidelines established for murder or manslaughter, whereas others make it a unique offense with separate penalties. Few courts have interpreted the assisted-suicide statutes, because prosecutions for assisted suicide are rare. In cases of assisted suicide, a state usually prosecutes individuals for murder or manslaughter. The Ohio state supreme court, however, ruled in 1996 that assisted suicide is not a crime.

Behuniak, Susan M. 2003. Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Anatomy of a Constitutional Law Issue. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield.

Dyck, Arthur J. 2001. When Killing Is Wrong: Physician-Assisted Suicide and the Courts. Cleveland, Ohio: Pilgrim Press.

Euthanasia.com. Available online at (accessed November 10, 2003).

Palmer, Larry I. 2000. Endings and Beginnings: Law, Medicine, and Society in Assisted Life and Death. Westport, Conn.: Praeger.

Death and Dying.

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Euthanasia, passive legal definition of Euthanasia, passive

Euthanization – definition of Euthanization by The Free …

(redirected from Euthanization)Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia.euthanasia (yooth-nzh, -zh-)n.

The act or practice of ending the life of a person or animal having a terminal illness or a medical condition that causes suffering perceived as incompatible with an acceptable quality of life, as by lethal injection or the suspension of certain medical treatments.

[Greek euthanasi, a good death : eu-, eu- + thanatos, death.]

(Medicine) the act of killing someone painlessly, esp to relieve suffering from an incurable illness. Also called: mercy killing

[C17: via New Latin from Greek: easy death, from eu- + thanatos death]

n.

[164050; < New Latin < Greek euthanasa easy death]

1. the act of putting to death without pain a person incurably ill or suffering great pain; mercy killing.2. an easy, painless death. euthanasic, adj.

the deliberate killing of painfully ill or terminally ill people to put them out of their misery. Also called mercy killing.

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:

Translations

eutanasimedlidenhedsdrab

eutanzia

lknardrp

eutanazijaneskausmingas numarinimas

eitanzija

eutanzia

tenazitatl lm

n. eutanasia, muerte infringida sin sufrimiento en casos de una enfermedad incurable.

euthanasia n eutanasia

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Euthanasia in the United States – Wikipedia

Euthanasia is illegal in most of the United States. Assisted suicide/assisted death is legal in Washington, D.C.[1] and the states of California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, New Jersey (Starting August 1, 2019),[2] Hawaii, and Washington;[3][4] its status is disputed in Montana. The key difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide is that in cases of assisted suicide, the individual receives assistance, but ultimately voluntarily causes their own death. In euthanasia the individual does not directly end their life, but another person acts to cause the individual's death.[5]

Debates about the ethics of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide date from ancient Greece and Rome. After the development of ether, physicians began advocating the use of anesthetics to relieve the pain of death. In 1870, Samuel Williams first proposed using anesthetics and morphine to intentionally end a patient's life. Over the next 35 years, debates about euthanasia raged in the United States which resulted in an Ohio bill to legalize euthanasia in 1906, a bill that was ultimately defeated.[6]

Euthanasia advocacy in the U.S. peaked again during the 1930s and diminished significantly during and after World War II. Euthanasia efforts were revived during the 1960s and 1970s, under the right-to-die rubric, physician assisted death in liberal bioethics, and through advance directives and do not resuscitate orders.

Several major court cases advanced the legal rights of patients, or their guardians, to practice at least voluntary passive euthanasia (physician assisted death). These include the Karen Ann Quinlan case (1976), Brophy and Nancy Cruzan cases. More recent years have seen policies fine-tuned and re-stated, as with Washington v. Glucksberg (1997) and the Terri Schiavo case. The numerous legislative rulings and legal precedents that were brought about in the wake of the Quinlan case had their ethical foundation in the famous 1983 report completed by the President's Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine, under the title "Deciding to Forgo Life-Sustaining Treatment."[7] The Commission sustained in its findings that it was morally acceptable to give up a life-supporting therapy and that withholding or withdrawing such a therapy is the same thing from an ethical stand-point, while artificial feeding and other life-supporting therapy are of the same importance for the patients and doctors. Before this report, to withdraw a medical therapy was regarded as much more serious decision than not to start a therapy at all, while artificial feeding was viewed as a special treatment. By 1990, barely a decade and a half after the New Jersey Supreme Courts historic decision, patients were well aware that they could decline any form of medical therapy if they simply choose to do that either directly or by expressing their wish via appointed representative.

In a 2004 article in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Brown University historian Jacob M. Appel documented extensive political debate over legislation to legalize physician-assisted suicide in both Iowa and Ohio in 1906. The driving force behind this movement was social activist Anna S. Hall. Canadian historian Ian Dowbiggen's 2003 book, A Merciful End, revealed the role that leading public figures, including Clarence Darrow and Jack London, played in advocating for the legalization of euthanasia.

In the 1983 case of Barber v. Superior Court, two physicians had honored a family's request to withdraw both respirator and intravenous feeding and hydration tubes from a comatose patient. The physicians were charged with murder, despite the fact that they were doing what the family wanted. The court held that all charges should be dropped because the treatments had all been ineffective and burdensome. Withdrawal of treatment, even if life-ending, is morally and legally permitted. Competent patients or their surrogates can decide to withdraw treatments, usually after the treatments are found ineffective, painful, or burdensome.[8]

On May 31, 2013, the Maine state legislature rejected decriminalization of physician assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia (95-43).

In the United States legal and ethical debates about euthanasia became more prominent in the Karen Ann Quinlan case who went into a coma after allegedly mixing tranquilizers with alcohol, surviving biologically for 9 years in a "persistent vegetative state" even after the New Jersey Supreme Court approval to remove her from a respirator. This case caused a widespread public concern about "lives not worth living" and the possibility of at least voluntary euthanasia if it could be ascertained that the patient would not have wanted to live in this condition.[9] In April 2019, New Jersey became the 7th US state to allow assisted dying after the Governor of New Jersey signed the bill into law and goes into effect on August 1, 2019.[10]

In 1999, the state of Texas passed the Advance Directives Act. Under the law, in some situations, Texas hospitals and physicians have the right to withdraw life support measures, such as mechanical respiration, from terminally ill patients when such treatment is considered to be both futile and inappropriate. This is sometimes referred to as "passive euthanasia".

In 2005, a six-month-old infant, Sun Hudson, with a uniformly fatal disease thanatophoric dysplasia, was the first patient in which "a United States court has allowed life-sustaining treatment to be withdrawn from a pediatric patient over the objections of the child's parent".[11]

Attempts to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide resulted in ballot initiatives and legislation bills within the United States in the last 20 years. For example, Washington voters saw Ballot Initiative 119 in 1991, California placed Proposition 161 on the ballot in 1992, Oregon passed the Death with Dignity Act in 1994, and Michigan included Proposal B in their ballot in 1998.

Reflecting the religious and cultural diversity of the United States, there is a wide range of public opinion about euthanasia and the right-to-die movement in the United States. During the past 30 years, public research shows that views on euthanasia tend to correlate with religious affiliation and culture, though not gender.

In one recent study dealing primarily with Christian denominations such as Southern Baptists, Pentecostals, and Evangelicals and Catholics tended to be opposed to euthanasia. Moderate Protestants, (e.g., Lutherans and Methodists) showed mixed views concerning end of life decisions in general. Both of these groups showed less support than non-affiliates, but were less opposed to it than conservative Protestants. Respondents that did not affiliate with a religion were found to support euthanasia more than those who did. The liberal Protestants (including some Presbyterians and Episcopalians) were the most supportive. In general, liberal Protestants affiliate more loosely with religious institutions and their views were not similar to those of non-affiliates. Within all groups, religiosity (i.e., self-evaluation and frequency of church attendance) also correlated to opinions on euthanasia. Individuals who attended church regularly and more frequently and considered themselves more religious were found to be more opposed to euthanasia than to those who had a lower level of religiosity.[12]

Recent studies have shown white Americans to be more accepting of euthanasia than black Americans. They are also more likely to have advance directives and to use other end-of-life measures.[13] African Americans are almost 3 times more likely to oppose euthanasia than white Americans. Some speculate that this discrepancy is due to the lower levels of trust in the medical establishment.[14] Select researchers believe that historical medical abuses towards minorities (such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study) have made minority groups less trustful of the level of care they receive. One study also found that there are significant disparities in the medical treatment and pain management that white Americans and other Americans receive.[15]

Among African Americans, education correlates to support for euthanasia. Black Americans without a four-year degree are twice as likely to oppose euthanasia than those with at least that much education. Level of education, however, does not significantly influence other racial groups in the US. Some researchers suggest that African Americans tend to be more religious, a claim that is difficult to substantiate and define.[14] Only black and white Americans have been studied in extensive detail. Although it has been found that minority groups are less supportive of euthanasia than white Americans, there is still some ambiguity as to what degree this is true.

A 2005 Gallup Poll found that 84% of males supported euthanasia compared to 64% of females.[16] Some cite the prior studies showing that women have a higher level of religiosity and moral conservatism as an explanation for major opposition to euthanasia. Within both sexes, there are differences in attitudes towards euthanasia due to other influences. For example, one study found that black American women are 2.37 times more likely to oppose euthanasia than white American women. African American men are 3.61 times more likely to oppose euthanasia than white American men.[17]

In "Gender, Feminism, and Death: Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia" Susan M. Wolf warns of the gender disparities if euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide were legal. Wolf highlights four possible gender effects: higher incidence of women than men dying by physician-assisted suicide; more women seeking physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia for different reasons than men; physicians granting or refusing requests for assisted suicide or euthanasia because of the gender of the patient; gender affecting the broad public debate by envisioning a woman patient when considering the debate.[18]

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Euthanasia in the United States - Wikipedia

What Happens When You Put Your Pet to Sleep? – WebMD

In this Article In this Article In this Article

Now that youve made the hard -- but humane -- choice to put your aging or ill pet to sleep, you may have questions. Will it hurt? Can I be with my pet during the process? Can it be done in my home?

Knowing the facts can help you and your family feel more at peace with what's going to happen.

It can be done at home or at your veterinarian's office. Not all vets will do this at your home so its important to check first. You may want to search for one that offers this service.

Make a time for your entire family to say goodbye. If you have children, explain what's happening in advance to help them prepare for the loss of their friend. The American Humane Association recommends books such as Fred Rogers When a Pet Dies as a way to provide comfort and understanding for children.

If you choose a vets office, bring your pets bed with you -- or a comfy blanket or pillow -- where she can rest. Most vets will provide a blanket, bugt one from home may be more soothing to you pet,

You may want to sit with your friend so you can pet and comfort her while the vet gives her the medicine.

Many vets give the pet a shot of sedative before the euthanasia drug. The vet will explain to you what he's doing and where he's giving the shot. Some vets only use a sedative if the pet is frightened or can't relax. The shot may may stin a little bit, and the drug can have side effects.So talk to your vet about whether your pet should get it. If she's very sick and already quiet or has trouble breathing she may not need it.

The euthanasia medication most vets use is pentobarbital, a seizure medication. In large doses, it quickly renders the pet unconscious. It shuts down her heart and brain functions usually within one or two minutes. It is usually given by an IV injection in one of her legs.

When your pet passes, her eyes may not fully close. She may urinate or defecate. You may see her twitch or take a final breath. This can be startling, but it's a normal part of the process. Your pet isn't in pain. Use of a sedative makes this step less likely.

In-home euthanasia can be easier if your dog has trouble moving or gets panicky at the vet's office.

Plus, if there are other animals at your house, they can see that their friend has passed. This is important for dogs -- as pack animals, they may get confused if they see another dog leave the house and not come back. Dogs often cry and search for a deceased animal after it's gone.

On the other hand, you may not want to associate your home with a beloved pet's death. It can be upsetting to children to see it happen, too. Or you may not want to be there when your pet passes.

If you want to bury your pet at home, be sure to check local, county, or state ordinances to make sure this is legal. You may also consider a pet cemetery.

The International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories has a directory of pet cemeteries on its website.

Many people choose to have their pet cremated. Your city may have a company that will pick up your friend's remains from the vet's office or from your home. They'll cremate the pet and let you have time for a memorial service before if you want. Your vet may have a service he uses. If not, contact your local or state government for guidance and regulations.

Putting your pet to sleep is the final step of a lifetime of care. You're making sure your friend is treated with compassion and dignity in his final moments.

SOURCES:

American Humane Association: "Euthanasia: Making the Decision."

The Humane Society of the United States: "Euthanasia Reference Manual."

Interview: Kristen Brauer, DVM, Tampa, Fla.

Interview: Bill DeBusk, Pet Angels, Pinellas Park, Fla.

The International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories.

Pagination

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What Happens When You Put Your Pet to Sleep? - WebMD

Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide & Health Care Decisions Part 1 …

Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide & Health Care Decisions:Protecting Yourself & Your Family

Table of Contents |Part 1 |Part 2

byRita L. Marker

INTRODUCTION

The words euthanasia and assisted suicide are often used interchangeably. However, they are different and, in the law, they are treated differently. In this report, euthanasia is defined as intentionally, knowingly and directly acting to cause the death of another person (e.g., giving a lethal injection). Assisted suicide is defined as intentionally, knowingly and directly providing the means of death to another person so that the person can use that means to commit suicide (e.g., providing a prescription for a lethal dose of drugs).

Part I of this report discusses the reasons used by activists to promote changes in the law; the contradictions that the actual proposals have with those reasons; and the logical progression that occurs when euthanasia and assisted suicide are transformed into medical treatments. It explores the failure of so-called safeguards and outlines the impact that euthanasia and assisted suicide have on families and society in general.

Withholding and withdrawing medical treatment and care are not legally considered euthanasia or assisted suicide. Withholding or withdrawing food and fluids is considered acceptable removal of a medical treatment.

Part II of this report includes information about practical ways to protect oneself and loved ones during any time of incapacity and a discussion of some of the policies that have led to patients being denied care that they or their decision-makers have requested. It concludes with an examination of the ethical distinction between treatment and care.

PART I

EUTHANASIA & ASSISTED SUICIDE

MOVING THE BOUNDARIES

In 2002, the International Task Force report, Assisted Suicide: Not for Adults Only? (1) discussed euthanasia and assisted suicide for children and teens. At that time, such concerns were largely considered outside the realm of possibility.

Then, as now, assisted-suicide advocates claimed that they were only trying to offer compassionate options for competent, terminally ill adults who were suffering unbearably. By and large, their claims went unchallenged.

A crack in that carefully honed image appeared in 2004 when the Groningen Protocol elicited worldwide outrage. The primary purpose of that protocol formulated by doctors at the Groningen Academic Hospital in the Netherlands was to legally and professionally protect Dutch doctors who kill severely disabled newborns. (2)

While euthanasia for infants (infanticide) was not new, widespread discussion of it was. Dutch doctors were now explaining that it was a necessary part of pediatric care.

Also in 2004, Hollands most prestigious medical society (KNMG) urged the Health Ministry to set up a board to review euthanasia for people who had no free will, including children and individuals with mental retardation or severe brain damage following accidents. (3)

At first, it seemed that these revelations would be harmful to the euthanasia movement, but the opposite was true.

Why?

Awareness of infanticide and euthanasia deaths of other incompetent patients moved the boundaries.

Prior to the widespread realization that involuntary euthanasia was taking place, advocacy of assisted suicide for those who request it seemed to be on one end of the spectrum. Opposition to it was on the other end.

Now, the practice of involuntary euthanasia took its place as one extreme, opposition to it as the other extreme, and assisted suicide for terminally ill competent adults appeared to be in the moderate middle a very advantageous political position and expansion of the practice to others had entered the realm of respectable debate.

This repositioning has become a tool in the assisted-suicide arsenal. In May 2006, an assisted-suicide bill, patterned after Oregons law permitting assisted suicide, failed to gain approval in the British Parliament. The bills supporters immediately declared that they would reintroduce it during the next parliamentary session.

Within two weeks, Professor Len Doyal a former member of the British Medical Associations ethics committee who is considered one of Englands leading experts on medical ethics called for doctors to be able to end the lives of some patients swiftly, humanely and without guilt, even without the patients consent. (4) Doyals proposal was widely reported and, undoubtedly, when the next assisted-suicide bill is introduced in England, a measure that would permit assisted suicide only for consenting adults will appear less radical than it might have seemed prior to Doyals suggestion.

Currently, euthanasia is a medical treatment in the Netherlands and Belgium. Assisted suicide is a medical treatment in the Netherlands, Belgium and Oregon. Their advocates erroneously portray both practices as personal, private acts. However, legalization is not about the private and the personal. It is about public policy, and it affects ethics, medicine, law, families and children.

A FAMILY AFFAIR

In December 2005, ABC News World News Tonight reported, Anita and Frank go often to the burial place of their daughter Chanou. Chanou died when, with her parents consent, doctors gave her a lethal dose of morphine. Im convinced that if we meet again somewhere in heaven, her father said, shell tell us we reached the most perfect solution.'(5)

The report about the six-month-old Dutch childs death was introduced as a report on the debate over euthanizing infants. A Dutch legislator who agrees that doctors who intentionally end their tiny patients lives should not be prosecuted said, Im certainly pro-life. But Im also a human being. I think when there is extreme, unbearable suffering, then there can be extreme relief. (6)

Gone was the previous years outrage over the Groningen Protocols. Infanticide had entered the realm of respectable debate in the mainstream media. The message given to viewers was that loving parents, compassionate doctors and caring legislators favor infanticide. It left the impression that opposing such a death would be cold, unfeeling and, perhaps, intentionally cruel.

In Oregon, some assisted-suicide deaths have become family or social events.

Oregons law does not require family members to know that a loved one is planning to commit suicide with a doctors help. (7) Thus, the first knowledge of those plans could come when a family member finds the body. However, as two news features illustrate, some Oregonians who die from assisted suicide make it a teachable moment for children or a party event for friends and family.

According to the Mail Tribune (Medford, Oregon), on a sunny afternoon, Joan Lucas rode around looking at houses, then she sat in a park eating an ice cream cone. A few hours later, she committed suicide with a prescribed deadly drug overdose. Grandchildren were made to understand that Grandma Joan would be going away soon. Those who were old enough to understand were told what was happening. (8

Did these children learn from Grandma Joan that suicide is a good thing?

UCLAs student newspaper, the Daily Bruin, carried an article favoring assisted suicide. It described how Karen Janoch who committed suicide under the Oregon law, sent invitations for her suicide to about two dozen of her closest friends and family. The invitation read, You are invited to attend the actual ending of my life. (9) At the same time Californias legislature was considering an assisted-suicide bill that was virtually identical to Oregons law, UCLA students learned that suicide can be the occasion for a party.

In Oregon, assisted suicide has gone from the appalling to the appealing, from the tragic to the banal.

During the last half of 2005 and the first half of 2006, bills to legalize assisted suicide were under consideration in various states and countries including, but not limited to, Canada, Great Britain, California, Hawaii, Vermont, and Washington. All had met failure by the end of June 2006. But plans to reintroduce them with some cosmetic changes are currently underway. A brief examination of arguments used to promote them illustrates the small world nature of assisted-suicide advocacy.

TWO PILLARS OF ADVOCACY

Wherever an assisted-suicide measure is proposed, proponents arguments and strategies are similar. Invariably, promotion rests on two pillars: autonomy and the elimination of suffering.

Autonomy

Autonomy (independence and the right of self-determination) is certainly valued in modern society and patients do, and should, have the right to accept or reject medical treatment. However, those who favor assisted suicide claim that autonomy extends to the right of a patient to decide when, where, how and why to die as the following examples illustrate.

During debate over an assisted-suicide measure then pending before the British Parliament, proponents emphasized personal choice. The bill, titled The Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill, was introduced by Lord Joel Joffe. Dr. Margaret Branthwaite, a physician, barrister and former head of Englands Voluntary Euthanasia Society (recently renamed Dignity in Dying (10)), called for passage of the Joffe bill in an article in the British Medical Journal. As a matter of principle, she wrote, it reinforces current trends towards greater respect for personal autonomy. (11)

The focus on autonomy was also reflected in remarks about a plan to introduce an assisted-suicide initiative in Washington. Booth Gardner, former governor of Washington, said he plans to promote the initiative because it should be his decision when and how he dies. He told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, When I go, I want to decide. (12)

The rationale is that when, where, why and how one dies should be a matter of self-determination, a matter of independent choice, and a matter of personal autonomy.

Elimination of suffering

The second pillar of assisted-suicide advocacy is elimination of suffering. During each and every attempt to permit euthanasia and assisted suicide, its advocates stress that ending suffering justifies legalization of the practices.

California Assemblywoman Patty Berg, the co-sponsor of Californias euphemistically named Compassionate Choices Act, (13) said the assisted-suicide measure was necessary so that people would have the comfort of knowing they could escape unbearable suffering if that were to occur. (14)

In an opinion piece supporting the failed 1998 assisted-suicide initiative in Michigan, a spokesperson for those favoring the measure wrote that the patients targeted by the proposal were those who were tortured by the unbearable suffering of a slow and agonizing death. (15)

In the United Kingdom, Lord Joffe said his bill would enable those who are suffering unbearably to get medical assistance to die. (16) Testimony before the British House of Lords Select Committee studying the bill noted that, where assisted dying has been legalized, it has done so as a response to patients who were suffering. (17)

The centerpiece of the 1994 Measure 16 campaign that resulted in Oregons assisted-suicide law was a television commercial featuring Patti Rosen. Describing her daughter who had cancer, Rosen said, The pain was so great that she couldnt bear to be touched. Measure 16 would have allowed my daughter to die with dignity. (18)

When an assisted-suicide proposal that later failed was being considered by the Hawaiian legislature in 2002, a public relations consultant who was working on behalf of the bill, e-mailed a template for use in written or oral testimony. The template suggested inclusion of the phrases agonizingly painful, pain was uncontrollable, and pain beyond my understanding. (19)

During consideration of an assisted-suicide bill in Vermont, the states former governor Philip Hoff said, The last thing I would want in this world is to be around and be in pain, and have no quality of life, and be a burden to my family and others. (20) Dick Walters, chairman of Death with Dignity Vermont, said the proposal would permit a person to peacefully end suffering and hasten death. (21)

Thus, the rationale given by euthanasia and assisted-suicide proponents for legalization always includes autonomy and/or elimination of suffering. However, the laws they propose actually contradict this rationale.

CONTRADICTIONS

When proposed, laws such as those now in existence in Oregon and similar measures introduced elsewhere include conditions or requirements limiting assisted suicide to certain groups of qualified patients. A patient qualified to receive the treatment of assisted suicide must be an adult who is capable of making decisions and must be diagnosed with a terminal condition.

If one accepts the premise that assisted suicide is a good medical treatment that should be permitted on the basis of personal autonomy or elimination of suffering, other questions must be raised.

If the reason for permitting assisted suicide is autonomy, why should assisted suicide be limited to the terminally ill?

Does ones autonomy depend upon a doctors diagnosis (or misdiagnosis) of a terminal illness? If a person is not terminally ill, but is suffering whether physically, psychologically or emotionally why isnt it up to that person to decide when, why and how to die? Does a person only have autonomy if he or she has a particular condition or illness? Is autonomy a basis for the law?

If assisted suicide is a good and acceptable medical treatment for the purpose of ending suffering, why should it be limited to adults who are capable of decision-making?

Isnt it both discriminatory and cruel to deny that good and acceptable medical treatment to a child or an incompetent adult? Why is a medical treatment that has been deemed appropriate to end suffering available to an 18-year-old, but not to a 16-year-old or 17-year-old? Why is a person only eligible to have his or her suffering ended if he or she has reached an arbitrary age?

And, what of the adult who never was, or no longer is, capable of decision-making? Should that person be denied medical treatment that ends suffering? Are euthanasia and assisted-suicide laws based on the need to eliminate suffering, or not?

Establishing arbitrary requirements that must be met prior to qualifying for the medical treatment of euthanasia or assisted suicide does, without doubt, contradict the two pillars on which justification for the practices is based.

The question then must be asked: Why are those arbitrary requirements included in Oregons law and other similar proposals? The answer is simple. After a series of defeats, euthanasia and assisted-suicide proponents learned that they had to propose laws that appeared palatable.

In April 2005, Lord Joffe, the British bills sponsor, acknowledged that his bill was intended to be only the first step. During hearings regarding the measure, he said that this is the first stage and went on to explain that one should go forward in incremental stages. I believe that this bill should initially be limited. (22)

He repeated his remarks a year later when discussing hearings about his bill. I can assure you that I would prefer that the [proposed] law did apply to patients who were younger and who were not terminally ill but who were suffering unbearable, he said and added, I believe that this bill should initially be limited. (23)

STEP-BY-STEP APPROACH

Proposals for euthanasia and assisted suicide have always emanated from advocacy groups, not from any grassroots desire. Those groups learned that attempting to go too far, too fast, leads to certain defeat.

After many failed attempts, most recently those in the early 90s in Washington and California when ballot initiatives that would have permitted both euthanasia by lethal injection and assisted suicide by lethal prescription were resoundingly defeated death with dignity activists changed their strategy. They decided to take a step-by-step approach, proposing an assisted-suicide-only bill which, when passed, would serve as a model for subsequent laws. Only after several such laws were passed, would they begin to expand them. That was the strategy that led to Oregons Measure 16, the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.

Those who were most involved in the successful Oregon strategy were not new to the scene.

Cheryl K. Smith, who wrote the first draft of Oregons law, had served as a special counsel to the political action group Oregon Right to Die (ORD). Smith had been the National Hemlock Societys legal advisor after her graduation from law school in 1989 and had been a top aide to Hemlocks co-founder, Derek Humphry. While a student at the University of Iowa College of Law, Smith helped draft a Model Aid-in-Dying Act that provided for childrens lives to be terminated either at their own request or, if under 6 years of age, by parental request. (24)

Barbara Coombs Lee was Measure 16s chief petitioner. At the time, she was a vice president for a large Oregon managed care program. After the laws passage, she took over the leadership of Compassion in Dying. (25) [Note: In early 2005, Compassion in Dying merged with the Hemlock Society. The combined organization is now called Compassion and Choices.]

Coombs Lees promotion of assisted suicide and euthanasia began prior to her involvement with the Death with Dignity Act. As a legislative aide to Oregon Senator Frank Roberts in 1991, she worked on Senate Bill 114 that would have permitted euthanasia on request of a patient and, if the patient was not competent, a designated representative would have been authorized to request the patients death. (26)

Upon passage of the Oregon law in 1994, many assisted-suicide supporters were certain that other states would immediately fall in line. However, that did not occur. Between 1994 and mid-2006, assisted-suicide measures were introduced in state after state.(27) Each and every proposal failed. All of the proposals were assisted-suicide-only bills and, with one exception, (28) every one was virtually identical to the Oregon law.

Among supporters of assisted suicide and euthanasia, though, the Oregon law is seen as the model for success and is referred to in debates about assisted suicide throughout the world. For that reason, a careful examination of the Oregon experience is vital to understanding the problems with legalized assisted suicide.

OREGON

Under Oregons law permitting physician-assisted suicide, the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) previously called the Oregon Health Division (OHD) is required to collect information, review a sample of cases and publish a yearly statistical report. (29)

However, due to major flaws in the law and the states reporting system, there is no way to know for sure how many or under what circumstances patients have died from physician-assisted suicide. Statistics from official reports are particularly questionable and have left some observers skeptical about their validity.

For example, when a similar proposal was under consideration in the British Parliament, members of a House of Lords Committee traveled to Oregon seeking information regarding Oregons law for use in their deliberations. The public and press were not present during the closed-door hearings. However, the House of Lords published the committees proceedings in three lengthy volumes, which included the exact wording of questions and answers.

After hearing witnesses claim that there have been no complications associated with more than 200 assisted-suicide deaths, committee member Lord McColl of Dulwich, a surgeon, said, If any surgeon or physician had told me that he did 200 procedures without any complications, I knew that he possibly needed counseling and had no insight. We come here and I am told there are no complications. There is something strange going on. (30)

The following includes statistical data from official reports and other published information dealing with troubling aspects of the practice of assisted suicide in Oregon. Statements from the 744-page second volume of the House of Lords committee proceedings are also included. None of the included statements from the committee hearings were made by opponents of Oregons law.

OFFICIAL REPORTS

Assisted-suicide deaths reported during the first eight years

Official Reports: 246Actual Number: Unknown

The latest annual report indicates that reported assisted-suicide deaths have increased by more than 230% since the first year of legal assisted suicide in Oregon. (31) The numbers, however, could be far greater. From the time the law went into effect, Oregon officials in charge of formulating annual reports have conceded theres no way to know if additional deaths went unreported because Oregon DHS has no regulatory authority or resources to ensure compliance with the law. (32)

The DHS has to rely on the word of doctors who prescribe the lethal drugs. (33) Referring to physicians reports, the reporting division admitted: For that matter the entire account [received from a prescribing doctor] could have been a cock-and-bull story. We assume, however, that physicians were their usual careful and accurate selves. (34)

The Death with Dignity law contains no penalties for doctors who do not report prescribing lethal doses for the purpose of suicide.

Complications occurring during assisted suicide

Official Reports: 13 (12 instances of vomiting & one patient who did not die fromlethal dose.)

Actual number: Unknown

Prescribing doctors may not know about all complications since, over the course of eight years, physicians who prescribed the lethal drugs for assisted suicide were present at only 19.5% of reported deaths. (35) Information they provide might come from secondhand accounts of those present at the deaths (36) or may be based on guesswork.

When asked if there is any systematic way of finding out and recording complications, Dr. Katrina Hedberg who was a lead author of most of Oregons official reports said, Not other than asking physicians. (37) She acknowledged that after they write the prescription, the physician may not keep track of the patient. (38) Dr. Melvin Kohn, a lead author of the eighth annual report, noted that, in every case that they hear about, it is the self-report, if you will, of the physician involved. (39)

Complications contained in news reports are not included in official reports

Patrick Matheny received his lethal prescription from Oregon Health Science University via Federal Express. He had difficulty when he tried to take the drugs four months later. His brother-in-law, Joe Hayes, said he had to help Matheny die. According to Hayes, It doesnt go smoothly for everyone. For Pat it was a huge problem. It would have not worked without help. (40) The annual report did not make note of this situation.

Speaking at Portland Community College, pro-assisted-suicide attorney Cynthia Barrett described a botched assisted suicide. The man was at home. There was no doctor there, she said. After he took it [the lethal dose], he began to have some physical symptoms. The symptoms were hard for his wife to handle. Well, she called 911. The guy ended up being taken by 911 to a local Portland hospital. Revived. In the middle of it. And taken to a local nursing facility. I dont know if he went back home. He died shortly someperiod of time after that. (41)

Overdoses of barbiturates are known to cause vomiting as a person begins to lose consciousness. The patient then inhales the vomit. In other cases, panic, feelings of terror and assaultive behavior can occur from the drug-induced confusion. (42) But Barrett would not say exactly which symptoms had taken place in this instance. She has refused any further discussion of the case.

Complications are not investigated

David Prueitt took the prescribed lethal dose in the presence of his family and members of Compassion & Choices. After being unconscious for 65 hours, he awoke. It was only after his family told the media about the botched assisted suicide that Compassion & Choices publicly acknowledged the case. (43) DHS issued a release saying it has no authority to investigate individual Death with Dignity cases. (44)

Referring to DHSs ability to look into complications, Dr. Hedberg explained that we are not given the resources to investigate and not only do we not have the resources to do it, but we do not have any legal authority to insert ourselves. (45)

David Hopkins, Data Analyst for the Eighth Annual Report, said, We do not report to the Board of Medical Examiners if complications occur; no, it is not required by law and it is not part of our duty. (46)

Jim Kronenberg, the Oregon Medical Associations (OMA) Chief Operating Officer, explained that the way the law is set up there is really no way to determine that [complications occurred] unless there is some kind of disaster. [P]ersonally I have never had a report where there was a true disaster, he said. Certainly that does not mean that you should infer there has not been, I just do not know. (47)

In the Netherlands, assisted-suicide complications and problems are not uncommon. One Dutch study found that, because of problems or complications, doctors in the Netherlands felt compelled to intervene (by giving a lethal injection) in 18% of cases.(48)

This led Dr. Sherwin Nuland of Yale University School of Medicine to question the credibility of Oregons lack of reported complications. Nuland, who favors physician-assisted suicide, noted that the Dutch have had years of practice to learn ways to overcome complications, yet complications are still reported. The Dutch findings seem more credible [than the Oregon reports], he wrote. (49)

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Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide & Health Care Decisions Part 1 ...

Euthanasia | PETA

Approximately 6 to 8 million animals are handled by animal shelters in the U.S. each year. Even though some are reclaimed or adopted, nearly 4 million unwanted dogs and cats are left with nowhere to go. Animal shelters cannot humanely house and support all these animals until their natural deaths. They would be forced to live in cramped cages or kennels for years, lonely and stressed, and other animals would have to be turned away because there would be no room for them.

Trying to build enough animal shelters to keep up with the endless stream of homeless animals is like putting a bandage on a gunshot wound. Turning unwanted animals loose to roam the streets is not a humane option, either. If they dont starve, freeze, get hit by a car, or die of disease, they may be tormented and possibly killed by cruel juveniles or picked up by dealers who sell animals to laboratories.

Euthanasia literally means good death, and true euthanasiadelivered by an intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbitalis painless, quick, and dignified. Because of the high number of unwanted companion animals and the lack of good homes, sometimes the most humane thing that a shelter worker can do is give an animal a peaceful release from a world in which dogs and cats are often considered surplus. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the Humane Society of the United States agree that an intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbital administered by a trained professional is the kindest, most compassionate method of euthanizing animals.

Unfortunately, some animals will be killed by municipal officials using unacceptable and cruel methods, such as gunshot. Bullets are often not placed precisely in the struggling animals head or are deflected, and some animals survive the first shot only to be shot again and again.

Many animal shelters still use outdated gas chambers to kill animals who arent adopted or reclaimed. Even the best gas boxes can expose conscious animals to the horror of watching other animals in the box suffer from convulsions and muscular spasms as they slowly die. Old, young, and sick animals are particularly susceptible to gas-related trauma and will die slow and highly stressful deaths.

And as hard as it is to believe, there are still facilities in the U.S. that kill animals using painful electrocution or cruel decompression chambers, which make the gases in animals sinuses, middle ears, and intestines expand quickly, causing considerable discomfort or severe pain. Some animals survive the first go-around in decompression chambers and are recompressed because of malfunctioning equipment or an operators mistake or because they get trapped in air pockets. They are then put through the painful procedure all over again. For more information, click here.

Until dog and cat overpopulation is brought under control through spaying and neutering, we must prevent the suffering of unwanted animals in the most responsible and humane way possible. Euthanasia, performed properly, is often the most compassionate option.

The only way to stop the suffering of the innocent victims of companion animal overpopulation is to prevent their births through sterilization efforts. Every last one of the millions of animal deaths at animal shelters and in the streets, alleyways, fields, basements, and back yards that occur every year could be prevented through spaying and neutering. You can help. Its as easy as ABCanimal birth control.

Please do not allow your companion animal to be needlessly euthanized during times of crises. Take the appropriate steps now to ensure that he or she is well taken care of even after your divorce or death.

For more info see how PETA saves animals.

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Euthanasia | PETA

Euthanasia – Wikipedia

Practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering

Euthanasia (from Greek: ; "good death": , eu; "well" or "good" , thanatos; "death") is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering.[1][2]

There are different euthanasia laws in each country. The British House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics defines euthanasia as "a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering".[3] In the Netherlands and Belgium, euthanasia is understood as "termination of life by a doctor at the request of a patient".[4] The Dutch law however, does not use the term 'euthanasia' but includes it under the broader definition of "assisted suicide and termination of life on request".[5]

Euthanasia is categorized in different ways, which include voluntary, non-voluntary, or involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is legal in some countries. Non-voluntary euthanasia (patient's consent unavailable) is illegal in all countries. Involuntary euthanasia (without asking consent or against the patient's will) is also illegal in all countries and is usually considered murder.[6] As of 2006, euthanasia is the most active area of research in contemporary bioethics.[7] In some countries there is a divisive public controversy over the moral, ethical, and legal issues of euthanasia. Passive euthanasia (known as "pulling the plug") is legal under some circumstances in many countries. Active euthanasia however is legal or de facto legal in only a handful of countries (e.g. Belgium, Canada, Switzerland) and is limited to specific circumstances and the approval of councilors and doctors or other specialists. In some countries such as Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, support for active euthanasia is almost non-existent.

Like other terms borrowed from history, "euthanasia" has had different meanings depending on usage. The first apparent usage of the term "euthanasia" belongs to the historian Suetonius, who described how the Emperor Augustus, "dying quickly and without suffering in the arms of his wife, Livia, experienced the 'euthanasia' he had wished for."[8] The word "euthanasia" was first used in a medical context by Francis Bacon in the 17th century, to refer to an easy, painless, happy death, during which it was a "physician's responsibility to alleviate the 'physical sufferings' of the body." Bacon referred to an "outward euthanasia"the term "outward" he used to distinguish from a spiritual conceptthe euthanasia "which regards the preparation of the soul."[9]

In current usage, euthanasia has been defined as the "painless inducement of a quick death".[10] However, it is argued that this approach fails to properly define euthanasia, as it leaves open a number of possible actions which would meet the requirements of the definition, but would not be seen as euthanasia. In particular, these include situations where a person kills another, painlessly, but for no reason beyond that of personal gain; or accidental deaths that are quick and painless, but not intentional.[11][12]

Another approach incorporates the notion of suffering into the definition.[11] The definition offered by the Oxford English Dictionary incorporates suffering as a necessary condition, with "the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma",[13] This approach is included in Marvin Khol and Paul Kurtz's definition of it as "a mode or act of inducing or permitting death painlessly as a relief from suffering".[14] Counterexamples can be given: such definitions may encompass killing a person suffering from an incurable disease for personal gain (such as to claim an inheritance), and commentators such as Tom Beauchamp and Arnold Davidson have argued that doing so would constitute "murder simpliciter" rather than euthanasia.[11]

The third element incorporated into many definitions is that of intentionality the death must be intended, rather than being accidental, and the intent of the action must be a "merciful death".[11] Michael Wreen argued that "the principal thing that distinguishes euthanasia from intentional killing simpliciter is the agent's motive: it must be a good motive insofar as the good of the person killed is concerned."[15] Similarly, Heather Draper speaks to the importance of motive, arguing that "the motive forms a crucial part of arguments for euthanasia, because it must be in the best interests of the person on the receiving end."[12] Definitions such as that offered by the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics take this path, where euthanasia is defined as "a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering."[3] Beauchamp and Davidson also highlight Baruch Brody's "an act of euthanasia is one in which one person... (A) kills another person (B) for the benefit of the second person, who actually does benefit from being killed".[16]

Draper argued that any definition of euthanasia must incorporate four elements: an agent and a subject; an intention; a causal proximity, such that the actions of the agent lead to the outcome; and an outcome. Based on this, she offered a definition incorporating those elements, stating that euthanasia "must be defined as death that results from the intention of one person to kill another person, using the most gentle and painless means possible, that is motivated solely by the best interests of the person who dies."[17] Prior to Draper, Beauchamp and Davidson had also offered a definition that includes these elements. Their definition specifically discounts fetuses to distinguish between abortions and euthanasia:[18]

In summary, we have argued... that the death of a human being, A, is an instance of euthanasia if and only if (1) A's death is intended by at least one other human being, B, where B is either the cause of death or a causally relevant feature of the event resulting in death (whether by action or by omission); (2) there is either sufficient current evidence for B to believe that A is acutely suffering or irreversibly comatose, or there is sufficient current evidence related to A's present condition such that one or more known causal laws supports B's belief that A will be in a condition of acute suffering or irreversible comatoseness; (3) (a) B's primary reason for intending A's death is cessation of A's (actual or predicted future) suffering or irreversible comatoseness, where B does not intend A's death for a different primary reason, though there may be other relevant reasons, and (b) there is sufficient current evidence for either A or B that causal means to A's death will not produce any more suffering than would be produced for A if B were not to intervene; (4) the causal means to the event of A's death are chosen by A or B to be as painless as possible, unless either A or B has an overriding reason for a more painful causal means, where the reason for choosing the latter causal means does not conflict with the evidence in 3b; (5) A is a nonfetal organism.[19]

Wreen, in part responding to Beauchamp and Davidson, offered a six-part definition:

Person A committed an act of euthanasia if and only if (1) A killed B or let her die; (2) A intended to kill B; (3) the intention specified in (2) was at least partial cause of the action specified in (1); (4) the causal journey from the intention specified in (2) to the action specified in (1) is more or less in accordance with A's plan of action; (5) A's killing of B is a voluntary action; (6) the motive for the action specified in (1), the motive standing behind the intention specified in (2), is the good of the person killed.[20]

Wreen also considered a seventh requirement: "(7) The good specified in (6) is, or at least includes, the avoidance of evil", although as Wreen noted in the paper, he was not convinced that the restriction was required.[21]

In discussing his definition, Wreen noted the difficulty of justifying euthanasia when faced with the notion of the subject's "right to life". In response, Wreen argued that euthanasia has to be voluntary, and that "involuntary euthanasia is, as such, a great wrong".[21] Other commentators incorporate consent more directly into their definitions. For example, in a discussion of euthanasia presented in 2003 by the European Association of Palliative Care (EPAC) Ethics Task Force, the authors offered: "Medicalized killing of a person without the person's consent, whether nonvoluntary (where the person is unable to consent) or involuntary (against the person's will) is not euthanasia: it is murder. Hence, euthanasia can be voluntary only."[22] Although the EPAC Ethics Task Force argued that both non-voluntary and involuntary euthanasia could not be included in the definition of euthanasia, there is discussion in the literature about excluding one but not the other.[21]

Euthanasia may be classified into three types, according to whether a person gives informed consent: voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary.[23][24]

There is a debate within the medical and bioethics literature about whether or not the non-voluntary (and by extension, involuntary) killing of patients can be regarded as euthanasia, irrespective of intent or the patient's circumstances. In the definitions offered by Beauchamp and Davidson and, later, by Wreen, consent on the part of the patient was not considered as one of their criteria, although it may have been required to justify euthanasia.[11][25] However, others see consent as essential.

Voluntary euthanasia is conducted with the consent of the patient. Active voluntary euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Passive voluntary euthanasia is legal throughout the US per Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health. When the patient brings about his or her own death with the assistance of a physician, the term assisted suicide is often used instead. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland and the U.S. states of California, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont.

Non-voluntary euthanasia is conducted when the consent of the patient is unavailable. Examples include child euthanasia, which is illegal worldwide but decriminalised under certain specific circumstances in the Netherlands under the Groningen Protocol.

Involuntary euthanasia is conducted against the will of the patient.

Voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary types can be further divided into passive or active variants.[26] Passive euthanasia entails the withholding treatment necessary for the continuance of life.[3] Active euthanasia entails the use of lethal substances or forces (such as administering a lethal injection), and is the more controversial. While some authors consider these terms to be misleading and unhelpful, they are nonetheless commonly used. In some cases, such as the administration of increasingly necessary, but toxic doses of painkillers, there is a debate whether or not to regard the practice as active or passive.[3]

Euthanasia was practiced in Ancient Greece and Rome: for example, hemlock was employed as a means of hastening death on the island of Kea, a technique also employed in Marseilles. Euthanasia, in the sense of the deliberate hastening of a person's death, was supported by Socrates, Plato and Seneca the Elder in the ancient world, although Hippocrates appears to have spoken against the practice, writing "I will not prescribe a deadly drug to please someone, nor give advice that may cause his death" (noting there is some debate in the literature about whether or not this was intended to encompass euthanasia).[27][28][29]

The term euthanasia in the earlier sense of supporting someone as they died, was used for the first time by Francis Bacon. In his work, Euthanasia medica, he chose this ancient Greek word and, in doing so, distinguished between euthanasia interior, the preparation of the soul for death, and euthanasia exterior, which was intended to make the end of life easier and painless, in exceptional circumstances by shortening life. That the ancient meaning of an easy death came to the fore again in the early modern period can be seen from its definition in the 18th century Zedlers Universallexikon:

Euthanasia: a very gentle and quiet death, which happens without painful convulsions. The word comes from , bene, well, and , mors, death.[30]

The concept of euthanasia in the sense of alleviating the process of death goes back to the medical historian, Karl Friedrich Heinrich Marx, who drew on Bacon's philosophical ideas. According to Marx, a doctor had a moral duty to ease the suffering of death through encouragement, support and mitigation using medication. Such an "alleviation of death" reflected the contemporary zeitgeist, but was brought into the medical canon of responsibility for the first time by Marx. Marx also stressed the distinction between the theological care of the soul of sick people from the physical care and medical treatment by doctors.[31][32]

Euthanasia in its modern sense has always been strongly opposed in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Thomas Aquinas opposed both and argued that the practice of euthanasia contradicted our natural human instincts of survival,[33] as did Francois Ranchin (15651641), a French physician and professor of medicine, and Michael Boudewijns (16011681), a physician and teacher.[28]:208[34] Other voices argued for euthanasia, such as John Donne in 1624,[35] and euthanasia continued to be practised. In 1678, the publication of Caspar Questel's De pulvinari morientibus non-subtrahend, ("On the pillow of which the dying should not be deprived"), initiated debate on the topic. Questel described various customs which were employed at the time to hasten the death of the dying, (including the sudden removal of a pillow, which was believed to accelerate death), and argued against their use, as doing so was "against the laws of God and Nature".[28]:209211 This view was shared by others who followed, including Philipp Jakob Spener, Veit Riedlin and Johann Georg Krnitz.[28]:211 Despite opposition, euthanasia continued to be practised, involving techniques such as bleeding, suffocation, and removing people from their beds to be placed on the cold ground.[28]:211214

Suicide and euthanasia became more accepted during the Age of Enlightenment.[34] Thomas More wrote of euthanasia in Utopia, although it is not clear if More was intending to endorse the practice.[28]:208209 Other cultures have taken different approaches: for example, in Japan suicide has not traditionally been viewed as a sin, as it is used in cases of honor, and accordingly, the perceptions of euthanasia are different from those in other parts of the world.[36]

In the mid-1800s, the use of morphine to treat "the pains of death" emerged, with John Warren recommending its use in 1848. A similar use of chloroform was revealed by Joseph Bullar in 1866. However, in neither case was it recommended that the use should be to hasten death. In 1870 Samuel Williams, a schoolteacher, initiated the contemporary euthanasia debate through a speech given at the Birmingham Speculative Club in England, which was subsequently published in a one-off publication entitled Essays of the Birmingham Speculative Club, the collected works of a number of members of an amateur philosophical society.[37]:794 Williams' proposal was to use chloroform to deliberately hasten the death of terminally ill patients:

That in all cases of hopeless and painful illness, it should be the recognized duty of the medical attendant, whenever so desired by the patient, to administer chloroform or such other anaesthetic as may by-and-bye supersede chloroform so as to destroy consciousness at once, and put the sufferer to a quick and painless death; all needful precautions being adopted to prevent any possible abuse of such duty; and means being taken to establish, beyond the possibility of doubt or question, that the remedy was applied at the express wish of the patient.

The essay was favourably reviewed in The Saturday Review, but an editorial against the essay appeared in The Spectator.[38] From there it proved to be influential, and other writers came out in support of such views: Lionel Tollemache wrote in favour of euthanasia, as did Annie Besant, the essayist and reformer who later became involved with the National Secular Society, considering it a duty to society to "die voluntarily and painlessly" when one reaches the point of becoming a 'burden'.[38][39] Popular Science analyzed the issue in May 1873, assessing both sides of the argument.[40] Kemp notes that at the time, medical doctors did not participate in the discussion; it was "essentially a philosophical enterprise... tied inextricably to a number of objections to the Christian doctrine of the sanctity of human life".[38]

The rise of the euthanasia movement in the United States coincided with the so-called Gilded Age, a time of social and technological change that encompassed an "individualistic conservatism that praised laissez-faire economics, scientific method, and rationalism", along with major depressions, industrialisation and conflict between corporations and labour unions.[37]:794 It was also the period in which the modern hospital system was developed, which has been seen as a factor in the emergence of the euthanasia debate.[41]

Robert Ingersoll argued for euthanasia, stating in 1894 that where someone is suffering from a terminal illness, such as terminal cancer, they should have a right to end their pain through suicide. Felix Adler offered a similar approach, although, unlike Ingersoll, Adler did not reject religion. In fact, he argued from an Ethical Culture framework. In 1891, Adler argued that those suffering from overwhelming pain should have the right to commit suicide, and, furthermore, that it should be permissible for a doctor to assist thus making Adler the first "prominent American" to argue for suicide in cases where people were suffering from chronic illness.[42] Both Ingersoll and Adler argued for voluntary euthanasia of adults suffering from terminal ailments.[42] Dowbiggin argues that by breaking down prior moral objections to euthanasia and suicide, Ingersoll and Adler enabled others to stretch the definition of euthanasia.[43]

The first attempt to legalise euthanasia took place in the United States, when Henry Hunt introduced legislation into the General Assembly of Ohio in 1906.[44]:614 Hunt did so at the behest of Anna S. Hall, a wealthy heiress who was a major figure in the euthanasia movement during the early 20th century in the United States. Hall had watched her mother die after an extended battle with liver cancer, and had dedicated herself to ensuring that others would not have to endure the same suffering. Towards this end she engaged in an extensive letter writing campaign, recruited Lurana Sheldon and Maud Ballington Booth, and organised a debate on euthanasia at the annual meeting of the American Humane Association in 1905 described by Jacob Appel as the first significant public debate on the topic in the 20th century.[44]:614616

Hunt's bill called for the administration of an anesthetic to bring about a patient's death, so long as the person is of lawful age and sound mind, and was suffering from a fatal injury, an irrevocable illness, or great physical pain. It also required that the case be heard by a physician, required informed consent in front of three witnesses, and required the attendance of three physicians who had to agree that the patient's recovery was impossible. A motion to reject the bill outright was voted down, but the bill failed to pass, 79 to 23.[37]:796[44]:618619

Along with the Ohio euthanasia proposal, in 1906 Assemblyman Ross Gregory introduced a proposal to permit euthanasia to the Iowa legislature. However, the Iowa legislation was broader in scope than that offered in Ohio. It allowed for the death of any person of at least ten years of age who suffered from an ailment that would prove fatal and cause extreme pain, should they be of sound mind and express a desire to artificially hasten their death. In addition, it allowed for infants to be euthanised if they were sufficiently deformed, and permitted guardians to request euthanasia on behalf of their wards. The proposed legislation also imposed penalties on physicians who refused to perform euthanasia when requested: a 612 month prison term and a fine of between $200 and $1,000. The proposal proved to be controversial.[44]:619621 It engendered considerable debate and failed to pass, having been withdrawn from consideration after being passed to the Committee on Public Health.[44]:623

After 1906 the euthanasia debate reduced in intensity, resurfacing periodically, but not returning to the same level of debate until the 1930s in the United Kingdom.[37]:796

Euthanasia opponent Ian Dowbiggin argues that the early membership of the Euthanasia Society of America (ESA) reflected how many perceived euthanasia at the time, often seeing it as a eugenics matter rather than an issue concerning individual rights.[42] Dowbiggin argues that not every eugenist joined the ESA "solely for eugenic reasons", but he postulates that there were clear ideological connections between the eugenics and euthanasia movements.[42]

The Voluntary Euthanasia Legalisation Society was founded in 1935 by Charles Killick Millard (now called Dignity in Dying). The movement campaigned for the legalisation of euthanasia in Great Britain.

In January 1936, King George V was given a fatal dose of morphine and cocaine to hasten his death. At the time he was suffering from cardio-respiratory failure, and the decision to end his life was made by his physician, Lord Dawson.[45] Although this event was kept a secret for over 50 years, the death of George V coincided with proposed legislation in the House of Lords to legalise euthanasia.[46]

A 24 July 1939 killing of a severely disabled infant in Nazi Germany was described in a BBC "Genocide Under the Nazis Timeline" as the first "state-sponsored euthanasia".[47] Parties that consented to the killing included Hitler's office, the parents, and the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registration of Serious and Congenitally Based Illnesses.[47] The Telegraph noted that the killing of the disabled infantwhose name was Gerhard Kretschmar, born blind, with missing limbs, subject to convulsions, and reportedly "an idiot" provided "the rationale for a secret Nazi decree that led to 'mercy killings' of almost 300,000 mentally and physically handicapped people".[48] While Kretchmar's killing received parental consent, most of the 5,000 to 8,000 children killed afterwards were forcibly taken from their parents.[47][48]

The "euthanasia campaign" of mass murder gathered momentum on 14 January 1940 when the "handicapped" were killed with gas vans and killing centres, eventually leading to the deaths of 70,000 adult Germans.[49] Professor Robert Jay Lifton, author of The Nazi Doctors and a leading authority on the T4 program, contrasts this program with what he considers to be a genuine euthanasia. He explains that the Nazi version of "euthanasia" was based on the work of Adolf Jost, who published The Right to Death (Das Recht auf den Tod) in 1895. Lifton writes:

Jost argued that control over the death of the individual must ultimately belong to the social organism, the state. This concept is in direct opposition to the Anglo-American concept of euthanasia, which emphasizes the individual's 'right to die' or 'right to death' or 'right to his or her own death,' as the ultimate human claim. In contrast, Jost was pointing to the state's right to kill.... Ultimately the argument was biological: 'The rights to death [are] the key to the fitness of life.' The state must own deathmust killin order to keep the social organism alive and healthy.[50]

In modern terms, the use of "euthanasia" in the context of Action T4 is seen to be a euphemism to disguise a program of genocide, in which people were killed on the grounds of "disabilities, religious beliefs, and discordant individual values".[51] Compared to the discussions of euthanasia that emerged post-war, the Nazi program may have been worded in terms that appear similar to the modern use of "euthanasia", but there was no "mercy" and the patients were not necessarily terminally ill.[51] Despite these differences, historian and euthanasia opponent Ian Dowbiggin writes that "the origins of Nazi euthanasia, like those of the American euthanasia movement, predate the Third Reich and were intertwined with the history of eugenics and Social Darwinism, and with efforts to discredit traditional morality and ethics."[42]:65

On 6 January 1949, the Euthanasia Society of America presented to the New York State Legislature a petition to legalize euthanasia, signed by 379 leading Protestant and Jewish ministers, the largest group of religious leaders ever to have taken this stance. A similar petition had been sent to the New York Legislature in 1947, signed by approximately 1,000 New York physicians. Roman Catholic religious leaders criticized the petition, saying that such a bill would "legalize a suicide-murder pact" and a "rationalization of the fifth commandment of God, 'Thou Shalt Not Kill.'"[52] The Right Reverend Robert E. McCormick stated that

The ultimate object of the Euthanasia Society is based on the Totalitarian principle that the state is supreme and that the individual does not have the right to live if his continuance in life is a burden or hindrance to the state. The Nazis followed this principle and compulsory Euthanasia was practiced as a part of their program during the recent war. We American citizens of New York State must ask ourselves this question: "Are we going to finish Hitler's job?"[52]

The petition brought tensions between the American Euthanasia Society and the Catholic Church to a head that contributed to a climate of anti-Catholic sentiment generally, regarding issues such as birth control, eugenics, and population control. However, the petition did not result in any legal changes.[42]

Historically, the euthanasia debate has tended to focus on a number of key concerns. According to euthanasia opponent Ezekiel Emanuel, proponents of euthanasia have presented four main arguments: a) that people have a right to self-determination, and thus should be allowed to choose their own fate; b) assisting a subject to die might be a better choice than requiring that they continue to suffer; c) the distinction between passive euthanasia, which is often permitted, and active euthanasia, which is not substantive (or that the underlying principlethe doctrine of double effectis unreasonable or unsound); and d) permitting euthanasia will not necessarily lead to unacceptable consequences. Pro-euthanasia activists often point to countries like the Netherlands and Belgium, and states like Oregon, where euthanasia has been legalized, to argue that it is mostly unproblematic.

Similarly, Emanuel argues that there are four major arguments presented by opponents of euthanasia: a) not all deaths are painful; b) alternatives, such as cessation of active treatment, combined with the use of effective pain relief, are available; c) the distinction between active and passive euthanasia is morally significant; and d) legalising euthanasia will place society on a slippery slope,[53] which will lead to unacceptable consequences.[37]:797-8 In fact, in Oregon, in 2013, pain wasn't one of the top five reasons people sought euthanasia. Top reasons were a loss of dignity, and a fear of burdening others.[54]

In the United States in 2013, 47% nationwide supported doctor-assisted suicide. This included 32% of Latinos, 29% of African-Americans, and almost nobody with disabilities.[54]

A 2015 Populus poll in the United Kingdom found broad public support for assisted dying. 82% of people supported the introduction of assisted dying laws, including 86% of people with disabilities.[55]

One concern is that euthanasia might undermine filial responsibility.[56] In some countries, adult children of impoverished parents are legally entitled to support payments under filial responsibility laws. Thirty out of the fifty United States[57] as well as France,[58] Germany,[59] Singapore, and Taiwan[60] have filial responsibility laws.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law states that "a 'mercy killing' or euthanasia is generally considered to be a criminal homicide"[61] and is normally used as a synonym of homicide committed at a request made by the patient.[62]

The judicial sense of the term "homicide" includes any intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, even to relieve intractable suffering.[62][63][64] Not all homicide is unlawful.[65] Two designations of homicide that carry no criminal punishment are justifiable and excusable homicide.[65] In most countries this is not the status of euthanasia. The term "euthanasia" is usually confined to the active variety; the University of Washington website states that "euthanasia generally means that the physician would act directly, for instance by giving a lethal injection, to end the patient's life".[66] Physician-assisted suicide is thus not classified as euthanasia by the US State of Oregon, where it is legal under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, and despite its name, it is not legally classified as suicide either.[67] Unlike physician-assisted suicide, withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatments with patient consent (voluntary) is almost unanimously considered, at least in the United States, to be legal.[68] The use of pain medication to relieve suffering, even if it hastens death, has been held as legal in several court decisions.[66]

Some governments around the world have legalized voluntary euthanasia but most commonly it is still considered to be criminal homicide. In the Netherlands and Belgium, where euthanasia has been legalized, it still remains homicide although it is not prosecuted and not punishable if the perpetrator (the doctor) meets certain legal conditions.[69][70][71][72]

In a historic judgment, the Supreme court of India legalized passive euthanasia. The apex court remarked in the judgment that the Constitution of India values liberty, dignity, autonomy, and privacy. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra delivered a unanimous judgment.[73]

A 2010 survey in the United States of more than 10,000 physicians found that 16.3% of physicians would consider halting life-sustaining therapy because the family demanded it, even if they believed that it was premature. Approximately 54.5% would not, and the remaining 29.2% responded "it depends".[74] The study also found that 45.8% of physicians agreed that physician-assisted suicide should be allowed in some cases; 40.7% did not, and the remaining 13.5% felt it depended.[74]

In the United Kingdom, the assisted dying campaign group Dignity in Dying cites research in which 54% of General Practitioners support or are neutral towards a law change on assisted dying.[75] Similarly, a 2017 Doctors.net.uk poll reported in the British Medical Journal stated that 55% of doctors believe assisted dying, in defined circumstances, should be legalised in the UK.[76]

The Roman Catholic Church strongly opposes and condemns euthanasia and assisted suicide as morally wrong. It states that, "intentional euthanasia, whatever its forms or motives, is murder. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator". Because of this, the practice is unacceptable within the Church.[77] The Orthodox Church in America, along with other Eastern Orthodox Churches, also opposes euthanasia stating that it must be condemned as murder stating that, "Euthanasia is the deliberate cessation to end human life."[78]

Many non-Catholic churches in the United States take a stance against euthanasia. Among Protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church passed a resolution in 1991 opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide stating that it is "morally wrong and unacceptable to take a human life to relieve the suffering caused by incurable illnesses."[78] Other Protestant churches which oppose euthanasia include:

The Church of England accepts passive euthanasia under some circumstances, but is strongly against active euthanasia, and has led opposition against recent attempt to legalise it.[88] The United Church of Canada accepts passive euthanasia under some circumstances, but is in general against active euthanasia, with growing acceptance now that active euthanasia has been partly legalised in Canada.[89].

Euthanasia is a complex issue in Islamic theology; however, in general it is considered contrary to Islamic law and holy texts. Among interpretations of the Koran and Hadith, the early termination of life is a crime, be it by suicide or helping one commit suicide. The various positions on the cessation of medical treatment are mixed and considered a different class of action than direct termination of life, especially if the patient is suffering. Suicide and euthanasia are both crimes in almost all Muslim majority countries.[90]

There is much debate on the topic of euthanasia in Judaic theology, ethics, and general opinion (especially in Israel and the United States). Passive euthanasia was declared legal by Israel's highest court under certain conditions and has reached some level of acceptance. Active euthanasia remains illegal, however the topic is actively under debate with no clear consensus through legal, ethical, theological and spiritual perspectives.[91]

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Euthanasia - Wikipedia

Euthanasia | law | Britannica.com

Euthanasia, also called mercy killing, act or practice of painlessly putting to death persons suffering from painful and incurable disease or incapacitating physical disorder or allowing them to die by withholding treatment or withdrawing artificial life-support measures. Because there is no specific provision for it in most legal systems, it is usually regarded as either suicide (if performed by the patient himself) or murder (if performed by another). A physician may, however, lawfully decide not to prolong life in cases of extreme suffering, and he may administer drugs to relieve pain even if this shortens the patients life. In the late 20th century, several European countries had special provisions in their criminal codes for lenient sentencing and the consideration of extenuating circumstances in prosecutions for euthanasia.

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ethics: Abortion, euthanasia, and the value of human life

A number of ethical questions are concerned with the endpoints of the human life span. The question of whether abortion or the use of human

The opinion that euthanasia is morally permissible is traceable to Socrates, Plato, and the Stoics. It is rejected in traditional Christian belief, chiefly because it is thought to contravene the prohibition of murder in the Ten Commandments. The organized movement for legalization of euthanasia commenced in England in 1935, when C. Killick Millard founded the Voluntary Euthanasia Legalisation Society (later called the Euthanasia Society). The societys bill was defeated in the House of Lords in 1936, as was a motion on the same subject in the House of Lords in 1950. In the United States the Euthanasia Society of America was founded in 1938.

The first countries to legalize euthanasia were the Netherlands in 2001 and Belgium in 2002. In 1997 Oregon became the first state in the United States to decriminalize physician-assisted suicide; opponents of the controversial law, however, attempted to have it overturned. In 2009 the Supreme Court of South Korea recognized a right to die with dignity in its decision to approve a request by the family of a brain-dead woman that she be removed from life-support systems.

The potential of modern medical practice to prolong life through technological means has provoked the question of what courses of action should be available to the physician and the family in cases of extreme physical or emotional suffering, especially if the patient is incapable of choice. Passively doing nothing to prolong life or withdrawing life-support measures has resulted in criminal charges being brought against physicians; on the other hand, the families of comatose and apparently terminal patients have instituted legal action against the medical establishment to make them stop the use of extraordinary life support.

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Euthanasia | law | Britannica.com

Euthanasia | Definition of Euthanasia by Merriam-Webster

: the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (such as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy

Euthanasia is a mass noun (or noncount noun), that is, a noun used only in the singular form.

The word comes from the Greek euthanatos, which means easy death. In English, euthanasia has been used in exactly this sense since the early seventeenth century, when Francis Bacon described the phenomenon as after the fashion and semblance of a kindly & pleasant sleepe. Nowadays, the word usually refers to the means of attaining such a death.

a physician who refuses to practice euthanasia

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These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'euthanasia.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

1605, in the meaning defined above

Greek, easy death, from euthanatos, from eu- + thanatos death more at thanatos

More Definitions for euthanasia

called also mercy killing

called also mercy killing

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Comments on euthanasia

What made you want to look up euthanasia? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

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Euthanasia | Definition of Euthanasia by Merriam-Webster

Euthanasia | American Medical Association

Code of Medical Ethics Opinion 5.8

Euthanasia is the administration of a lethal agent by another person to a patient for the purpose of relieving the patients intolerable and incurable suffering.

It is understandable, though tragic, that some patients in extreme duresssuch as those suffering from a terminal, painful, debilitating illnessmay come to decide that death is preferable to life.

However, permitting physicians to engage in euthanasia would ultimately cause more harm than good.

Euthanasia is fundamentally incompatible with the physicians role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks. Euthanasia could readily be extended to incompetent patients and other vulnerable populations.

The involvement of physicians in euthanasia heightens the significance of its ethical prohibition. The physician who performs euthanasia assumes unique responsibility for the act of ending the patients life.

Instead of engaging in euthanasia, physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life. Physicians:

(a) Should not abandon a patient once it is determined that a cure is impossible.

(b) Must respect patient autonomy.

(c) Must provide good communication and emotional support.

(d) Must provide appropriate comfort care and adequate pain control.

Code of Medical Ethics:Caring for Patients at the End of Life

Visit theEthics main pageto access additional Opinions, the Principles of Medical Ethics and more information about the Code of Medical Ethics.

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Euthanasia | American Medical Association


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