What is Voluntary Euthanasia?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 22 January 2017
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Voluntary euthanasia is the termination of a person's life with the explicit consent of that person, typically for reasons relating to health or quality of life. It is usually performed in consultation with a physician or medical professional using a variety of drugs that purportedly end life painlessly. Euthanasia, even when voluntary, is not legal in all societies, and so some people choose to travel to areas in which they can choose to die. For many people, voluntary euthanasia is a question of personal rights, while for others it is a question of absolute morality, which makes it very difficult for consensus to be reached on this issue.

A person might choose euthanasia because death is inevitable, pain makes life too difficult, or he or she has no will to live. There are a variety of other possible reasons that a person might be euthanized voluntarily, but many of these are not acceptable in any location under current medical and legal guidelines. For instance, some people believe that humanity is a blight on the earth, and these people might choose euthanasia as a moral exit from the world. Simply choosing to die is not enough for a death to be considered voluntary euthanasia. Euthanasia is currently a term reserved only for death related to medical, not philosophical, concerns.

While euthanasia is typically performed through a cooperative effort between a medical professional and the patient, it is possible for a medical professional alone to administer the final medication that terminates life. Also, while euthanasia is almost always intended to be painless, there are a wide variety of methods one could use that would cause pain. Euthanasia is sometimes called assisted suicide because the primary different between suicide and euthanasia is the cooperation of a medical professional. The exact manner in which a person is assisted differs depending on the method used.

Typically, for death to be considered euthanasia, it must be legal in the area in which it is performed. When euthanasia is not legal, it is often considered murder. Given that people who choose euthanasia are willing participants in the act, it is often possible to travel to a location in which euthanasia is legal. If it is not possible to travel, a person who is interested in voluntary euthanasia may still commit suicide, although this is not usually a method endorsed by any medical or legal group.

Some people question why legal endorsement of euthanasia is necessary when people are capable of committing suicide. People have a natural ability to die, and with proper research, most people can terminate life effectively. There are convincing arguments on both sides of the debate about voluntary euthanasia. With or without legal endorsement, this procedure is a serious and permanent decision that should be considered deeply by all parties involved.

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anon337509
Post 5

Well, in reading the above comments, I am concerned at the lack of mercy some extend to those who are suffering, whether mentally, emotionally or physically. When you are dying from a terminal illness, and the pain starts getting to the point where only high doses of morphine [which render you unconscious] help, then let's talk again.

In the Jewish religion, mercy is a high form of worship to God, and in Christianity, Jesus in the New Testament advocated mercy, not judgment.

So, in places like America it is OK to kill (some would call it enforced euthanasia) those who have murdered? You can't have it both ways. Some of those who have murdered embrace enforced euthanasia because, in their

minds, they deserve it.

Jesus said show mercy, not judgment. It is for God to judge, not man! Have compassion. If you can't change their destiny, walk the road with them, instead of isolating them and making them feel unloved and guilty.

arod2b42
Post 4

I am personally of the opinion that all life is precious and that nobody, not even the person herself, has a right to choose to end human life. This is the moral which drives us to love one another more than ourselves and to punish murder. A human life is the most precious thing on earth, and any system which does not protect this supreme good is a failure of a system.

BostonIrish
Post 3

@SilentBlue

What if people are in profound physical pain which they want to escape? Would you deny them the opportunity to be freed of their mortal coil? Much of dying is quite painful and seems to be unnecessary. The Japanese saw ritual suicide as an honorable thing. It probably all just depends on culture.

GigaGold
Post 2

@SilentBlue

If euthanasia is self-centered, then why do people with euthanasia kill themselves? Suicide doesn't seem so selfish to me, it seems self-defeating. If people who committed suicide really loved themselves, I don't think that they would commit suicide.

SilentBlue
Post 1

I feel that people were placed on this earth without their consent and that they should recognized that it is not up to them when they leave this earth. Suicide is a supreme form of selfishness and self-worship. If someone believes that they have a right to commit suicide, they are effectively saying that they don't care about the pain that they will cause, just that they are escaping their own pain. This is quite selfish and self-centered.

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