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When a person commits an act of euthanasia, he/she brings about the death of another person because he/she believes that the latter’s present existence is so bad that he/she would be better off dead. The word euthanasia originated from the Greek language: eu means “good” and thanatos means “death”. The meaning of euthanasia is “the intentional termination of life by another at the explicit request of the person who dies” (Religious Tolerance). However, euthanasia has many different meanings, which tends to create confusion. It is important to differentiate between the various terms used in discussing euthanasia. Passive Euthanasia refers to removing some form of life support which allows nature to take its course. Forms of life support include: removing life support machines, stopping medical procedures and medications, stopping food and water, or not delivering cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Active Euthanasia refers to causing the death of a person through a direct action, in response to a request from the person. Physician Assisted Suicide refers to a physician supplying information and/or the means of committing suicide to a person, so that he/she can easily end his/her own life. This may also be referred to as voluntary passive euthanasia. Involuntary Euthanasia refers to the killing of a person in opposition to their wishes. It is basically a form of murder (Religious Tolerance, 2-3). Euthanasia has been accepted both legally and morally during the times of ancient societies. For example, the Romans and the Greeks both believed that “dying decently and rationally mattered immensely” (Hamel, 20). The Greeks and Romans were sympathetic to active voluntary euthanasia provided that the acts were done for the right reasons, such as, to end the suffering of a terminal illness. As a result “of this moral acceptance of active voluntary euthanasia under certain circumstances, Greek and Roman physicians typically did not feel that they had to prolong human life” (Hamel, 19). The Greeks and Romans believed that it was important to die a “good death”, which refers to a clear and calm psychological state of mind (Hamel, 16). Therefore, “it was the physicians role to support the patient in the dying process and to help ensure for him or her a good death” (Hamel, 20). According to ancient societies, euthanasia was an approved custom. But, “with the rise of orga...

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... plea to the physician was, “Whose life is it, anyway?” (Religious Tolerance,1). Physicians should not be prohibited by law from lending their professional assistance to those competent, terminally ill persons for whom no cure is possible and who wish for an easy death. It is a crime in itself to allow a person to endure such intolerable pain for extended periods of time. I believe that if it were legal, many physicians would extend their assistance to those ill patients that deserved to die in peace.


Works Cited Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: Christian Moral Perspectives. Washington, DC: Morehouse Publishing, 1997. Baird, Robert, and Stuart Rosenbaum. Euthanasia: The Moral Issues. Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1989. Hamel, Ron. Choosing Death. Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1991. Kohl, Marvin. Beneficent Euthanasia. Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1975. Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, 1999. Overberg, Kenneth. Mercy or Murder? Euthanasia, Morality, and Public Opinion. Kansas City, Missouri: Sheed and Ward, 1993. Physician Assisted Suicide. . Religious Tolerance: Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide Home Page. .

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