Euthanasia - a Boon or Disaster

Topics: Euthanasia, Death, Medical ethics Pages: 14 (4796 words) Published: March 17, 2012
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For mercy killings performed on animals, see Animal euthanasia.

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Euthanasia (from the Greek εὐθανασία meaning "good death": εὖ, eu (well or good) + θάνατος, thanatos (death)) refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering. 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".[1] In the Netherlands, euthanasia is understood as "termination of life by a doctor at the request of a patient".[2] Euthanasia is categorized in different ways, which include voluntary, non-voluntary, or involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is legal in some countries and U.S. states. Non-voluntary euthanasia is illegal in all countries. However, in the Netherlands, physicians can avoid prosecution by following well described and strict conditions. These conditions include patient request, taking into consideration the amount of suffering the patient is experiencing, alternative courses of action must be discussed and pursued, all available information must be presented to the patient. [3] Involuntary euthanasia is usually considered murder.[by whom?] Euthanasia is the most active area of research in contemporary bioethics.[4] Contents [hide]  * 1 Definition * 2 Classification of euthanasia * 2.1 Voluntary euthanasia * 2.2 Non-voluntary euthanasia * 2.3 Involuntary euthanasia * 3 Procedural decision * 3.1 Passive euthanasia * 3.2 Active euthanasia * 4 History * 4.1 Beginnings of the contemporary euthanasia debate * 4.2 Early euthanasia movement in the United States * 4.3 1930s * 4.4 Nazi Euthanasia Program (Action T4) * 5 Euthanasia debate * 6 Legal status * 7 Physician sentiment * 8 See also * 9 References * 10 External links * 11 Further reading| Definition

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."[5] 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 concept—the euthanasia "which regards the preparation of the soul."[6] In current usage, one approach to defining euthanasia has been to mirror Suetonius, regarding it as the "painless inducement of a quick death".[7] 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...
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