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A description of euthanasia as highly debated subject in todays society

Statistics Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide refer to deliberate action taken with the intention of ending a life, in order to relieve persistent suffering. In most countries, euthanasia is against the law and it may carry a jail sentence.

In the United States, the law varies between states. Euthanasia has long been a controversial and emotive topic. Euthanasia and assisted suicide Assisted suicide: Is it an act of compassion? The definitions of euthanasia and assisted suicide vary. One useful distinction is: A doctor is allowed by law to end a person's life by a painless means, as long as the patient and their family agree.

A doctor assists a patient to commit suicide if they request it. Voluntary and involuntary euthanasia Euthanasia can also be classed as voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is conducted with consent.

What are euthanasia and assisted suicide?

Involuntary euthanasia is euthanasia is conducted without consent. The decision is made by another person, because the patient is unable to make the decision. Passive and active euthanasia There are two procedural classifications of euthanasia: Passive euthanasia is when life-sustaining treatments are withheld. The definitions are not precise.

If a doctor prescribes increasing doses of strong painkilling medications, such as opioids, this may eventually be toxic for the patient. Some may argue that this is passive euthanasia. Others, however, would say this is not euthanasia, because there is no intention to take life.

Active euthanasia is when someone uses lethal substances or forces to end a patient's life, whether by the patient or somebody else. Active euthanasia is more controversial, and it is more likely to involve religious, moral, ethical, and compassionate arguments.

What is assisted suicide? Assisted suicide has several different interpretations and definitions. Opioids are commonly used to manage pain and other symptoms.

The adverse effects of opioids include drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. They can also be addictive.

Ethics of euthanasia - introduction

An overdose can be life-threatening. Refusing treatment In many countries, including the U. All doctors take this oath. The Hippocratic Oath The original oath included, among other things, the following words: But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. In some countries, an updated version is used, while in others, for example, Pakistan, doctors still adhere to the original.

As more treatments become available, for example, the possibility of extending life, whatever its quality, is an increasingly complex issue. Euthanasia in the United States In the U. In 1828, the first anti-euthanasia law in the U. In time, other states followed suit.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide laws around the world

In the 20th Century, Ezekiel Emmanual, a bioethicist of the American National Institutes of Health NIH said that the modern era of euthanasia was ushered in by the availability of anesthesia. In 1938, a euthanasia society was established in the U. Physician-assisted suicide became legal in Switzerland in 1937, as long as the doctor ending the patient's life had nothing to gain.

Euthanasia: Right to life vs right to die

During the 1960s, advocacy for a right-to-die approach to euthanasia grew. The Netherlands decriminalized doctor-assisted suicide and loosened some restrictions in 2002. In 2002 doctor-assisted suicide was approved in Belgium.

  • Others, however, would say this is not euthanasia, because there is no intention to take life;
  • This uncertainty leaves the doctors, their patients and patient's loved ones unprotected;
  • This argument is sometimes known as the Doctrine of Double Effect;
  • Terminally ill people can have their quality of life severely damaged by physical conditions such as incontinence, nausea and vomiting, breathlessness, paralysis and difficulty in swallowing.

These became legal in California in 1977, with other states soon following suit. In the living will, the person states their wishes for medical care, should they become unable to make their own decision. In 1990 the Supreme Court approved the use of non-active euthanasia. In 1994, voters in Oregon approved the Death with Dignity Act, allowing physicians to assist terminal patients who were not expected to survive more than 6 months. The Terri Schiavo case galvanized public opinion in Florida and the U.

Schiavo had a cardiac arrest in 1990, and spent 15 years in a vegetative state before her husband's request to allow her to pass was granted.

The case involved various decisions, appeals, motions, petitions, and court hearings over a number of years before the decision was made to disconnect Schiavo's life support in 2005. The Florida Legislature, U. Congress, and President Bush all played a role.