Euthanasia-an Ethical Dilemma

* From the Greek word “euthanatos”, which means ‘eu’ easy and ‘thanatos’ death= easy death * “Euthanasia” is a broad term for mercy killing—taking the life of a hopelessly ill or injured individual in order to end his or her suffering. * The act or practice of killing hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.

* The act or practice of allowing a hopelessly sick or injured patient to die by taking less than complete medical measures to prolong life—called also mercy killing. * Legal systems consider it murder, though in many jurisdictions a physician may lawfully decide not to prolong the patient’s life or may give drugs to relieve pain even if they shorten the patient’s life.


Voluntary Euthanasia refers to the action taken by the physician and the patient, who both agree (with informed consent) to end the patient’s life. Involuntary Euthanasia refers to a third party taking a patient’s life without the informed consent of the patient. This is commonly practiced in veterinary medicine when animals are “put down” or “put to sleep.” In modern medicine, it could conceivably be applied to the act of taking a terminally ill, suffering patient’s life that has lost all mental capacity to make his/her own decisions.

Also Known As: physician-assisted death, physician-assisted suicide, mercy killing

Indirect- Providing treatment (usually to reduce pain) that has the foreseeable side effect of causing the patient to die sooner. The patient dies sooner as a side effect of giving a medical treatment given to relieve pain or improve end-of-life symptoms. Indirect or passive euthanasia are not prohibited in most countries, while direct or active euthanasia is prohibited; these are considered by some to be incorrect terms because they are not really types of euthanasia.

Passive- Involves withdrawing or withholding life-prolonging medical treatment with the intention to hasten death in the patient’s interests because of their expected negative quality of life.

Distinguishing Passive from Active Euthanasia

Passive euthanasia is letting someone die.Active euthanasia is doing something that kills them.

This distinction between active and passive euthanasia is thought to be crucial for medical ethics. The idea is that it is permissible, at least in some cases, to withhold treatment and allow a patient to die, but it is never permissible to take any direct action designed to kill the patient.

Non-Voluntary- This is where the person is unable to ask for euthanasia (perhaps they are unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate), or to make a meaningful choice between living and dying and an appropriate person takes the decision on their behalf, perhaps in accordance with their living will, or previously expressed wishes. Situations in which the person cannot make a decision or cannot make their wishes known, includes cases where: * The person is in a coma.

* The person is too young (e.g. a very young baby).* The person is senile.* The person is mentally retarded to a very severe extent. * The person is severely brain damaged.* The person is mentally disturbed in such a way that they should be protected from themselves.

PROS of EUTHANASIA* Its provides a way to relieve extreme pain* Its provides a way of relief when a person’s quality of life is low * Frees up medical funds to help other people

CONS* Euthanasia devalues human life* Euthanasia can become a means of health care cost containment * Physicians and other medical care people should not be involved in directly causing death

Mercy killing represents a serious ethical dilemma.

Hira Abad11 May 2009

Euthanasia-An Ethical DilemmaDeath is nothing new, it has existed for thousands of years. Lately, we are forced to rethink the issue of death and we must decide what types of practices and behavior are ethical when someone is dying. One such practice-which has posed a moral and ethical dilemma for the society- is euthanasia. Euthanasia or “mercy killing” is the act of killing a person, who is ill and in great distress, without the hope of recovery in spite of all the medical advancements, and is killed to relieve him of his misery in a painless manner.(Vidyut Jain)

One of the main reasons that the debate about euthanasia has been so hotly contested is because it challenges the values of people. The main value that is attached with euthanasia is that of individual rights or to be more specific, the right to dignified death. Active euthanasia (where the physician agrees to give the patient a lethal injection) allows a person to die while he is still at peace and has respect for his life. Life for the sake of life, has no value in itself. (LeBaron 7)

If the state were not to make the practice of active euthanasia legal, it would violate the value of individual’s right to dignified death, thus making the individual go through a state of more pain and suffering. Keeping this in mind, the state ought to realize that the quality of life is more important than the value of life itself. Furthermore, the value of the individual’s right to dignified death would actually lead towards the progress of humanity.

This is because, a person who’s life is entirely dependent on life support systems is actually taking up valuable time of physicians and resources. Thus, if he does wish to die, it would actually be beneficial for those people who have a chance of getting cured if they were to be granted proper medical attention and resources.