Blurring the Moral Line: Active and Passive Euthanasia

1080 Words3 Pages

Some philosophers believe that active euthanasia and passive euthanasia are separate entities and are morally different. However, I believe that there is no moral difference between the two, so an act of voluntary euthanasia should not have to be distinguished between active and passive. Euthanasia is defined as the act of killing a patient to avoid suffering from a painful disease or a hopeless injury. Death is the result of both active and passive euthanasia. While the term “active” indicates the physician’s intentional choice to end the life of a patient, the term “passive” means that the physician allows the patient to die by withholding life-preserving needs. Although the means of active and passive euthanasia are slightly different, this …show more content…

In both active and passive euthanasia, the motive of death is the same and the patient ends up dying. An example of active euthanasia and killing is giving a lethal injection to a patient. In this, the doctor is directly killing the patient and knows his action will lead to the patient’s death. An example of passive euthanasia and letting the patient die is turning off a patient’s life-support machine. The machine is keeping the patient alive, so the doctor knows pulling the plug will lead to the patient’s death. These two typical examples show that in regard to morality, the physician understands that his action will cause death soon after. An objection to the idea that active and passive euthanasia have the same moral weight is that passive euthanasia means that the patient technically dies from the disease or injury rather than the doctor’s action. However, this argument is not supported well. When the physician turns off the life-support machine, the instantaneous effect of the physician’s act is the death of the patient. If the doctor did not unplug the machine at a certain time, the patient would not have died at a moment immediately after. Therefore, the patient’s life would have continued if it were not for the physician’s deed. The only difference between active and passive euthanasia is the means of killing the patient. However, in both cases, both killing and allowing someone to die is an intentional act done by the

Open Document