Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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Euthanasia, from Greek, literally means good death. Euthanasia is allowing a person to die when medicine has the technology to keep him alive, even if just for a short time. In order to participate in the debate over euthanasia, one must understand certain key concepts.

J. Gay-Williams, in his essay "The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia," lays out three conditions that an act must meet to be called euthanasia: 1) A life is taken; 2) The person whose life is taken is believed to be suffering from a disease or injury from which he cannot reasonably be expected to recover; and 3) The taking of the life must be deliberate and intentional. Active Euthanasia is the act of hastening death by means of the administration of a lethal drug or the use of other similar means. Passive Euthanasia is the act of allowing death by taking away medical treatment and life support, allowing disease or injury to kill the patient.

Often, the term "Euthanasia" is reserved for active euthanasia only. By nature, passive euthanasia involves the deprivation of measures of treatment, which can be called either ordinary or extraordinary. Ordinary Measures are those that have a reasonable hope of benefit or in which the benefits outweigh the burdens. Extraordinary or Heroic Measures are those that have no reasonable hope of benefit or in which the burdens outweigh the benefits. Both active and passive euthanasia can be broken down into voluntary and nonvoluntary euthanasia. Voluntary Euthanasia is euthanasia in which the patient knowingly and freely decides he wants to die. Doctor-assisted suicide is a voluntary, active euthanasia in which a doctor obtains for the patient a medicine (or other means of death) which the patient administers to himself to bring about death. Nonvoluntary Euthanasia is euthanasia in which other persons decide that...