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Euthanasia

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Euthanasia is the practice of mercifully ending a person?s life in order to release them from an intolerable suffering, incurable disease, or undignified death. Euthanasia is different than assisted suicide, in which a patient actually causes his or her own death with the assistance of another, typically a physician. There are four types of euthanasia that the public should be aware of: active, passive, voluntary, and involuntary. Our health professionals are currently using passive euthanasia. It is the act of not doing something to prevent death, as when a doctor refrains from using an artificial respirator to keep alive a terminally ill patient. Then there is active euthanasia, which means that a doctor injects a lethal dose of medication to a patient. In voluntary euthanasia, a person asks to die (either active or passive). Non-voluntary refers to ending the life of a person who is not mentally competent to make an informed request to die, such as a comatose patient. The legalization of active euthanasia in the United States is important because under principles of individual freedom (such as those expressed in our Constitution), individuals have a legal right to die as they choose. The disagreement over active euthanasia remains passionate, in part because of the opposition from religious groups and many members of the legal and medical professions. It is maintained that health-care providers have professional obligations that prohibit killing. However, when you look at the pros and cons of voluntary active euthanasia, it is clear that in certain cases, relief from suffering (rather than preserving life) should be the primary objective of health-care providers.

For example, what if you had a family member suffer a respiratory arrest that resulted in severe and irreversible brain damage that left him or her in a coma? Then several months down the road, doctors inform you that that family member?s recovery was extremely unlikely. After weighing all of the...