Jack Kevorkian also known as “Dr. Death,” a name given to him due to his efforts in helping over 130 terminally ill people commit suicide, was one of the first physicians to make euthanasia and physicians-assisted suicide (PAS) what it is today. Since the 1990’s his methods have been criticized by many due to evidence showing that some patients were not terminally ill. He was a pioneer and it is due to his efforts that PAS is becoming more accepted today. He invented different devices to perform PAS, note Dr. Kevorkian was not the one to “flip the switch” that began this lethal process, which took only six minutes; instead it was the patient, aware of the timer that would release potassium chloride after they became unconscious, who started the process. Dr. Kevorkian wanted to give people the option choose between living in pain or putting an end to it in their own terms.
This example attracts several issues regarding the morality of PAS and euthanasia. PAS and euthanasia are two different terms yet many regard them as the same in moral discussions. Euthanasia is the term used for mercy killing and is not the same as suicide. There are different forms of euthanasia, which are passive or active and voluntary, involuntary or non-voluntary. The difference between voluntary, involuntary and non-voluntary euthanasia is exactly what it sounds like, voluntary patients grant permission to perform euthanasia, involuntary patients refuse permission to perform euthanasia, and non-voluntary patients are unknown because they are not in a conscious state to grant or deny permission. Voluntary euthanasia on the other hand is with the consent of the patient to end his or her own life.
The difference between active and passive euthanasia has to do with how the patient dies. Active implies that a specific action from the hands of the physician kills the patient, such as a medication. Passive euthanasia or withholding