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Euthanasia (from the Greek ευθανασία meaning "good death": ευ-, eu- (well or good) + θάνατος, thanatos (death)) refers to the practice of ending a life in a manner which relieves pain and suffering. According to the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics, the precise definition of euthanasia is "a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending alife, to relieve intractable suffering.”

The controversy surrounding euthanasia centers around a two-pronged argument by opponents which characterises euthanasia as either voluntary "suicides," or as involuntary murders. (Hence, opponents argue that a broad policy of "euthanasia" is tantamount to eugenics). Much hinges on a whether a particular death was considered an "easy," "painless," or"happy" one, or whether it was a "wrongful death." Proponents typically consider a death that increased suffering to be "wrongful," while opponents typically consider any deliberate death as "wrongful." "Euthanasia's" original meaning introduced the idea of a "rightful death" beyond that only found in natural deaths.

Euthanasia is the most active area of research in contemporary bioethics.Etymology

Like other terms borrowed from history, the "euthanasia" has had different meanings depending on usage. The first apparent usage of the term "euthanasia" belongs to the historian Suetonius who described how the Emperor Augustus, "dying quickly and without suffering in the arms of his wife, Livia, experienced the "euthanasia" he had wished for." [3] The word "euthanasia" was first used in amedical context by Francis Bacon in the 17th century, to refer to an easy, painless, happy death, during which it was a "physician's responsibility to alleviate the "physical sufferings" of the body." Bacon referred to an "outward euthanasia" —the term "outward" he used to distinguish from a spiritual concept —the euthanasia "which regards the preparation of the soul."

In current parlance ithas come to mean different but related things depending on philosophy and political persuasion: Opponents to euthanasia and assisted suicide, refer to an "active causation of a patient's death by a physician".[5] Proponents instead refer to palliative care and easing of suffering.

Classification of euthanasia

Euthanasia may be classified according to whether a person gives informed consentinto three types: voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary.

There is a debate within the medical and bioethics literature about whether or not the non-voluntary (and by extension, involuntary) killing of patients can be regarded as euthanasia, irrespective of intent or the patient's circumstances. In the definitions offered by Beauchamp & Davidson and, later, by Wreen, consent on the part of thepatient was not considered to be one of their criteria.[8][9] However, others see consent as as essential. For example, in a discussion of euthanasia presented in 2003 by the European Association of Palliative Care (EPAC) Ethics Task Force, the authors offered the unambiguous statement:“ Medicalized killing of a person without the person's consent, whether nonvoluntary (where the person in unableto consent) or involuntary (against the person's will) is not euthanasia: it is murder. Hence, euthanasia can be voluntary only.”

This displays a strong stance on the part of the task force members.

Voluntary euthanasia

Euthanasia conducted with the consent of the patient is termed voluntary euthanasia. Voluntary euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland,and the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington. When the patient brings about his or her own death with the assistance of a physician, the term assisted suicide is often used instead.

Non-voluntary euthanasia

Euthanasia conducted where the consent of the patient is unavailable is termed non-voluntary euthanasia. Examples include child euthanasia, which is illegal worldwide but decriminalised...
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