What is Euthanasia?
Euthanasia is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary as "the action of
killing an individual for reasons considered to be merciful" (469). Here,
killing is described as the physical action where one individual actively
kills another. Euthanasia is tolerated in the medical field under certain
circumstances when a patient is suffering profoundly and death is
inevitable. The word "euthanasia" comes from the Greek eu, "good", and
thanatos, "death," literally, "good death"; however, the word "euthanasia"
is much more difficult to define. Each person may define euthanasia
differently. Who is to decide whether a death is good or not? Is any form
of death good? All of these questions can be answered differently by each
person. It is generally taken today to mean that act which a health care
professional carries out to help his/her patient achieve a good death.
Suicide, self-deliverance, auto-euthanasia, aid-in-dying, assisted suicide
-- call it what you like -- can be justified by the average supporter of
the so-called "right to die movement" for the following reasons: The first
reason is that an advanced terminal illness is causing unbearable suffering
to the individual.
This suffering is the most common reason to seek an
early end. Second, a grave physical handicap exists that is so restricting
that the individual cannot, even after due care, counseling, and re-
training, tolerate such a limited existence. This handicap is a fairly rare
reason for suicide; most impaired people cope remarkably well with their
affliction, but there are some who would, at a certain point, rather die.
We say that there is a second form of suicide; justifiable suicide, that is
a rational and planned self-deliverance from a painful and hopeless disease
which will shortly end in death. I do not think the word "suicide" sits
well in this...