Euthanasia is one of the most controversial and emotionally charged issues in the media today. It is a topic that is within the domains of religion, law, sociology, healthcare, humanity and human dignity. No one seems to have a moderate opinion about euthanasia; it seems to engender extremely strong opinions in favor of euthanasia or equally strong opinions against it. Many who are close to the subject feel that the law is out of sync with the needs of society; others feel that euthanasia is not a legal issue at all, but should remain the purvey of individuals and their families, anchored in the basic doctrine of human dignity. Even the Supreme Court has remained somewhat distant from the topic, presumably wanting to avoid a formal encounter similar Roe v. Wade for abortion. Because of the history of discordance between pro and con factions and the reasonable — albeit passionate — arguments made by both proponents and opponents, it is likely that the controversy surrounding euthanasia will never be resolved, or completely legislated.
Euthanasia Vocabulary and Definitions
The following definitions were derived not only from the dictionary, but also from a wealth of published materials from various interest groups.
• Euthanasia: “the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit” [Dictionary.com]
• Voluntary euthanasia: “when the person who is killed has requested to be killed.” [Dictionary.com]
• Non-voluntary euthanasia: “when the person who is killed made no request and gave no consent.” [Dictionary.com]
• Involuntary euthanasia: “when the person who is killed made an expressed wish to the contrary.” [Dictionary.com]
• Assisted suicide: “someone provides an individual with the information, guidance, and means to take his or her own life with the intention that they will be used for this purpose. When it is a doctor who helps another person to kill themselves it is called ‘physician
Bibliography: Dictionary.com Online Dictionary and Thesaurus, 2007, 11 May 2007 <http://www.dictionary.reference.com> Information for Research on Euthanasia, Physician-Assisted Suicide, Living Wills, Mercy Killing, 2007, 10 May 2007, <http://www.euthanasia.com> Dying in Dignity SIG, 2007, 9 May 2007, <http://www.euthanasia.cc>