What is Euthanasia?

Essay by ngandhiUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, October 2006

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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 context but we...