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What is Meant By The Term Euthanasia?

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What is Meant By The Term Euthanasia? To many people the term 'Euthanasia' is a technical name for mercy killing or assisted suicide. In other words it is see as a way of putting people out of their misery that is a far more serious issue than putting your pet to sleep but holds the same principle. In fact the term 'Euthanasia' comes from the Greek words eu which means well and thantos which means death. When the two words are combined Euthanasia can be defined as a 'good death'. The Oxford Dictionary defines 'Euthanasia' as "The bringing about of a gentle and easy death in the case of incurable and painful disease." Euthanasia is, therefore, when death is purposely chosen and not when a person is killed in, for example, a car accident or has died due to medical treatment failing to work. Euthanasia can either be voluntary, involuntary or non-voluntary. Voluntary Euthanasia is when a dying person (or their legal representative) makes a request for them to die. For example, a person may have lung cancer and have been placed on a respirator and then he or she may request their breathing tube to be removed. ...read more.


Non-voluntary Euthanasia is when the decision to end a person's life is made for them as they can not say what they want. One example is when Tony Bland was on a life-support machine and was in a deep coma even though he could be fed and could breathe after the Hillsborough football disaster in April 1989. His life support machine was turn off after a long legal debate. Another example would be if a baby had been born with acute spina bifida and the paediatric unit has to decide whether they should operate because if a child has spina bifida they are either partially or totally paralysed and mentally handicapped. Euthanasia can either be passive or active. Passive Euthanasia "involves not doing something to prevent death - that is, allowing someone to die"2. An example of passive Euthanasia is if a baby is born very prematurely and a doctor has to decide whether to save the baby or 'let nature take its course'. If the baby is not treated then this would be passive Euthanasia. ...read more.


In Britain if a person if fully competent they are allowed to refuse treatment but if the person is not competent and cannot ask for or refuse treatment, for example, if they are unconscious then the doctor has the power to take away the treatment even without consulting the patient's relations or friends, though this is not encouraged. In 1935 organisations that wanted voluntary Euthanasia to be legalised in Britain were founded. However, despite gaining some public support they have not been able to make it legal but the laws against passive and voluntary Euthanasia have eased over the past thirty or so years. If Euthanasia was legalised then it would go against the principle that life should be valued and protected not only by the people but also by the law. By legalising Euthanasia it would be as if saying a doctor could kill if there was no worth in a person living. Therefore, there is a great debate over whether Euthanasia should be legalised. 1 Contemporary Issues by J and A Bentley - page 126 2 Concise Encarta Encyclopedia - 'Euthanasia' 3 Issues of Life and Death by M. Wilcokson - page 63 4 Issues of Life and Death by M. Wilcokson - page 64 R.S. Euthanasia Coursework ...read more.

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