Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade October 2001

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One of the most debated and important public policies today is around the idea of euthanasia and assisted suicide. The outcome of that debate will greatly affect the family relationships, interaction between doctors and patients and the concepts of ethical behavior. In order to debate and understand this topic fully we must look at what euthanasia and assisted suicide are by definition and their similarities and differences. Thomas Aquinas once said, "Life is the gift of God and is thus only to be taken by God (####). Another man said, "Suicide should be considered a matter of personal choice, and that it is a rational option under circumstances (#### )." In this essay I will explore these two clashing ideas and beliefs and look at the rational for supporting or opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide.

What is the difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide? One way to look at the difference is to distinguish who causes the death, either the patient or the doctor.

If a doctor gives a patient a lethal injection or puts a plastic bag over her head to suffocate her it would be considered euthanasia. On the other hand, if the cause of death was caused by swallowing prescription drugs, that had been provided by a doctor for the purpose of causing death, then this is considered assisted suicide. The distinction can easily be understood with this simple idea in mind; who actually caused the death? There are three different types of groups when you talk about euthanasia and assisted suicide. Those who do not support it in any way, who believe that no one should kill himself or herself or have the help of a doctor. Others can be best described as believing in "passive euthanasia, which agree in taking someone off life support, getting...