Euthanasia or mercy killing is the deliberate act of terminating a person’s life to put an end to his suffering. This practice occurs through doctor-assisted deaths, and it is a means of painlessly ending the life of a person suffering from an incurable illness or disease or to induce death of someone suffering from unbearable pain without any prospect for improvement. After 2007, Euthanasia has increased in demand, since its eligibility has continued to expand and the definition of “unbearable suffering” has also loosened.
Euthanasia is still not widely accepted in various countries around the world and is considered illegal. To this day, it is still considered a controversial and emotional topic and many still find it difficult to form an opinion on the matter.
Classification of Euthanasia – Voluntary, Non- Voluntary and Involuntary
Euthanasia can be classified in various forms. Such include voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary. These varied classifications of Euthanasia revolve around the notion of consent.
Voluntary Euthanasia, is conducted when the patient provides his consent. This form of Euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Non-Voluntary Euthanasia, occurs when a person is unable to provide his consent due to his physical and/or mental condition. In such situations, family members or guardians normally take the decision on their behalf.
Involuntary Euthanasia, is, on the other hand, the termination of a person’s life against his will.
Active and passive Euthanasia
Euthanasia can be carried out in two different procedures, there is active or passive Euthanasia. Active Euthanasia, is when doctors prescribe lethal drugs to force the end of a person’s life, either by consuming pills orally or through the use of injections to stop the heart. Active Euthanasia can be self-administered or else can be performed by medical professionals.
Passive Euthanasia occurs when life-sustaining treatments are withheld from the patient to induce deterioration. These practices include not giving the sick or disabled person food or drink or failing to provide the patient with the required treatment.
Euthanasia versus morality
Euthanasia brings to the fore another discussion revolving around morality. On the one side you will have those who argue that the decision should ultimately be made by the person himself. If a person wants to end his particular suffering, he should be left to do so with no intrusion. On the other side of the coin, there are those who argue that life is sacred and should not be terminated before it is due. Whilst it may not be too difficult for some to form their opinion on this matter, it becomes all the more complicated when certain questions are asked.
- At which stage can a person decide to terminate his life?
- Can one go for medical Euthanasia when the suffering is not fatal?
- If a person has had a particular psychological history, should he be allowed to take such an important decision?
- If a person is not conscious, can anyone else decide for him?
- Where does one draw the line?
Most would think that the main reason for a Euthanasia request is due to unbearable pain and suffering. Research in the USA and Netherlands indicates that a significant number of people request Euthanasia due to a rapidly declining quality of life due to illness. There are also psychological factors which may make Euthanasia tempting such as depression, loss of control and dignity and the fear of being dependent.