Euthanasia: Essay on euthanasia in general

Essay by enforcer2envyB, November 2006

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Euthanasia is the practice of ending the life of an individual or an animal who is suffering from a terminal disease or a chronically painful condition in a painless or minimally painful way either by lethal injection, drug overdose, or by the withdrawal of medical support. I'm sure that many of you don't know the difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide. So firstly I will explain the difference between the two.

One way to distinguish them is to look at the last act of both definitions- the act without which death would not occur. Using this distinction, if the person who dies performs the last act, euthanasia has occurred. For example, if the patient swallows an overdose of drugs that has been provided by a doctor for the purpose of causing death, this would be classified as euthanasia. It would also be euthanasia if a patient pushes a switch to trigger a fatal injection after the doctor has inserted a needle into the patient's vein.

On the other hand, if a third party performs the last act that intentionally causes a patient's death. For example, giving a patient a lethal injection or putting a plastic bag over the patients head to suffocate the patient. This would be considered assisted suicide.

In Australia you can end up in court for keeping an animal that is suffering pain and is beyond medical recovery. But you can also go to jail for helping to end the life of a human being that is suffering the same pain. Do you see the irony in this?

Now that we have established the definition of euthanasia I will move on to explain the conflicts that surround this issue. There are two main sides to this issue, and they are the individual and the state. The individual...