A thornier issue arises within the distinction between voluntary and involuntary euthanasia. "Voluntary euthanasia" occurs when the patient requests that action be taken to end his life, or that life-saving treatment be stopped, with full knowledge that they will die. This often occurs in cases where someone is undergoing excruciating pain that cannot be ended medically. Conversely, "Involuntary euthanasia" is when a patient's life is ended without the patient's knowledge and consent. This typically occurs when a patient is unconscious or incapacitated, for example in a coma, and courts appoint a legal guardian to make a legally bonding decision for that person (Hinman, 2003).
Clearly then, there is a wide distinction between voluntary active euthanasia and involuntary passive euthanasia. But what are the moral or ethical ramifications of each form? Proponents of voluntary euthanasia argue that only patients can determine when suffering makes life worse than death and that such persons can and should be allowed to make the decision. Some also... [continues]
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