Euthanasia as a topic is often highly-charged--emotionally, politically, and morally. Terminology and laws shift over time, geographically and globally, causing a great deal of confusion. In politically and emotionally loaded terms, this is frequently and incorrectly referred to as physician-assisted suicide.
There is some debate as to whether euthanasia refers to "letting die" or "allowing to die." In the United States and the Netherlands, "letting die" or "allowing to die" refer to areas which the state consider ethically and legally acceptable and permissible. This includes the withholding and withdrawing of medical treatment such as dialysis, feeding tubes or hydration and nutrition when they no longer prolong the life of the dying person. Sometimes, as a body's major organ systems shut down, a dying person may feel most comfortable without any fluids or food. To provide fluids and nutrition in this situation is like "force feeding" a body that does not "want" or need to be fed or hydrated, and doing so may actually cause physical discomfort and suffering.
This is a different situation than when the person is not dying, and whose body can absorb nutrition and fluids.
In most other countries removing or denying treatment is usually seen as murder. In a growing number of law cases over the last 20 years, the jury has usually sided with the defendant.
Following are several summary statements defining what euthanasia can include. These are followed by expanded definitions of each. Euthanasia (assisted dying) may employ methods that are either indirect or direct. Indirect methods of euthanasia are defined by an individual him or herself taking the final step inducing death. Direct methods are defined by the involvement of others (clinicians) who take the final step inducing death. Direct euthanasia can either be voluntary, nonvoluntary or involuntary. (See Karl Binding and Alfred...