Euthanasia Overview

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The term Euthanasia has become well known throughout the country. The word is derived from ancient Greek eu thantos, meaning "easy death." Today, euthanasia is referred to as mercy killing. There is much controversy over whether or not the practice is just. Euthanasia raises many religious, medical, and ethical issues. Euthanasia can either be active or passive. Active euthanasia occurs when a physician or other medical personnel induces death. An overdose is administered to the patients in the form of insulin, barbiturates, or morphine, and then followed by an injection of curare. Passive euthanasia, on the other hand, is allowing the patient to die due to lack of treatment. This includes taking the patient off their support system, or respirator. Passive euthanasia also includes stopping the food supply intravenously to comatose patients (Compton's, 1). Debate has flourished against those who accept passive euthanasia, but reject active. Questions are asked why one form is accepted and not the other. The distinction that is made between the two of them is that active is murder, while passive is merciful. Turning off support systems is a positive act of death (Singer, 76). In the Encyclopedia of Bio-ethics, some religious views of euthanasia were given. Hebraic and Jewish denominations strongly oppose the practice. They believe life is a precious and divine gift, and that it must be sustained if possible. "Death must never be hastened by intention. Physicians who kill patients in order to spare them pain are considered murderers (554-555)." Judaism also rejects euthanasia. They do, however, accept two forms of eu thantos: caring for dying patients, and letting terminally ill persons die. Early Christians opposed self-induced death out of suffering and despair. They also condemn such practices such as infanticide and abortion (556). Roman Catholics permit terminally ill patients to die by forgoing life-sustaining measures. Catholics also allow the refusing...
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