For the sake of clarity, we note here that outside those jurisdictions, for a physician to administer euthanasia would be first-degree murder, whether or not the patient had consented to it.
Assisted suicide Assisted suicide has the same goal as euthanasia: causing the death of a person.
The sense in which physicians encounter it today, as a request for the active and intentional hastening of a patient’s demise, is a modern phenomenon; the first sample sentence given by the Oxford English Dictionary to illustrate the use of the verb is dated 1975.
The notion of inducing, causing, or delivering a (good) death, so thoroughly ensconced in our contemporary, so-called “progressive values” cultural ethos, is a new reality. ” The causes go well beyond responding to the suffering person who seeks euthanasia, are broad and varied, and result from major institutional and societal changes. We recommend the one used by the Canadian Senate in its 1995 report: “The deliberate act undertaken by one person with the intention of ending the life of another person in order to relieve that person’s suffering.” Terms such as active and passive euthanasia should be banished from our vocabulary.
It is essential that health care practitioners are not among the latter.
This review responds to the need for an up-to-date and comprehensive survey of salient ethical issues.Written in a narrative style, it is intended to impart basic information and review foundational principles helpful in ethical decision-making in relation to end-of-life medical care.The authors, a physician and an ethicist, provide complementary perspectives.Definitions Euthanasia Euthanasia is an emotionally charged word, and definitional confusion has been fermented by characterizations such as passive versus active euthanasia.Some have suggested avoiding using the word altogether.They examine the standard arguments advanced by both proponents and opponents of legalizing euthanasia and note some recent legal developments in the matter.They consider an aspect of the debate often underappreciated; that is, the wider consequences that legalizing euthanasia might have on the medical profession, the institutions of law and medicine, and society as a whole.We believe it would be a mistake to abandon the word, but we need to clarify it.The word’s etymology is straightforward: eu means good and Thanatos means death.We consider the effect of legalization on patients and their families, physicians (as individuals and a collectivity), hospitals, the law, and society at large.Our goal is to provide a vade mecum useful in end-of-life care and ethical decision-making in that context.