Euthanasia as Physician-Assisted Suicide


The problem of euthanasia – voluntary departure from life of the terminally ill person, in recent years has been actively discussed by doctors, lawyers, philosophers. Disputes are about being on the notion incurability, the possibility of legal reasoning of “easy death”. In some countries euthanasia is legally sanctioned, for example, in Holland in 2001, although it was used in this country before, based on case law. Euthanasia is legalized in Australia and some U.S. states.

Active and Passive euthanasia

Among patients there are people who do not recognize euthanasia. It is considered to be a sin for them. The right to die, people intuitively decide on the advice within themselves to something deeper than religion. Nevertheless, we must recognize that the interruption of life, alone or with the help of doctors is contrary to one of the basic tenets of Christianity: the more people suffer on earth, the easier it will be in heaven, and to interrupt their suffering – thus doom themselves to beyond the grave flour.

But there is another disturbing aspect of euthanasia: the likelihood that the legalization of euthanasia could be used for criminal purposes. For example, the moral pressure on the sick, bring to commit suicide in order to seize the inheritance.

There is a difference between active and passive euthanasia and it is considered a critical issue of medical ethics. In some cases the treatment can be stopped and patient will die their own death because of their incurable disease, but without undertaking any direct action aimed to kill the patient. But still there are some arguments against this.

It is possible to start with a typical situation: a patient is dying from an incurable cancer of the larynx, is suffering greatly. It is possible that the patient will die even it to continue the treatment. But he does not want to live these days, since suffering is non-portable and they ask the doctor to stop it, his family subscribes to this request (Moreno, 1995).

It is possible to imagine that doctor agrees to stop treatment as it was mentioned above. Justification is the following reasoning: the patient is in terrible agony and will die in any event, so it would be wrong to prolong their suffering unnecessarily. But the mere cessation of treatment in this situation could prolong the patient’s death, and therefore perhaps they would suffer more than if there was an imminent act of killing by lethal injection. This gives serious grounds to believe that as long as the decision not to prolong the agony of the patient was taken, active euthanasia in this case really is preferable to passive. To say otherwise it would prefer the choice of more suffering, not less, contrary to the humanist grounds, bringing the decision not to renew their life (Snyder, 2006).

So, in my opinion, to die because of incurable illness is much more difficult and painful than to get an injection which would help to die. There are some examples of this. In the United States every sixth child has Down syndrome. Most children with this syndrome in otherwise healthy, that is, if appropriate pediatric care can be a normal child. Some, along with Down syndrome have more birth defects, such as, for example, bowel obstruction. In these cases, the child survived, required surgery. But sometimes children die because parents and doctors see no other way out. (Manning, 1998)

It is easy to understand the parents who want their children to live even if they have some mental disease. I can also understand why other people prefer to kill those children fast and painless.

But why someone should prefer the dehydration and infection drying a tiny creature during the hours and days? The doctrine, which permits that can dehydrate and dry up the child, but can not be allowed to injection, which would be easily interrupted his life, seems so clearly a brutal that does not require further refutation.

There are some other examples which show another side of the problem.

Let us consider again the example of children with Down syndrome. Sometimes children need an operation which is not related to the mental disease and is there is no operation – they die. But when a child with the syndrome does not have defects and hence the operation is not required, they continue to live.

Different views on the problem of euthanasia

So, there are different views on the problem of euthanasia. The word ‘euthanasia’ is interpreted in different ways.

Oxford dictionary interprets the word «euthanasia» threefold. First, it is quiet, easy death. Secondly, it is the leverage necessary to do so. The third it is an Action to implement such a death. That is the dictionary says about the only forms of death, but it does not give them an ethical evaluation (Moreno, 1995).

Modern ethics includes: if applicable, that death may be blessing, the form of dying should not be discussed and evaluated separately, but combined with events. Indeed, the fascist propaganda to justify the mass extermination of the mentally and physically handicapped people speculates on that ambiguity, the term “euthanasia”, fluctuating between process and outcome.

Over the past half a century in ethics occurred very serious changes. Both the ancient Greek term «easy death» in relation to modern circumstances sounds like an anachronism. Even critics of Kant realized that a lot of ethics is outdated and all the important ethical concepts must be strictly analyzed logically. The results of this were very bad. It turned out that the possibility of an abstract analysis of exhausted and moral categories have not identified. Scientists rushed to the other extreme – from “dry” logic in the thick of life, the empiricist. Basically, these were the British and Americans in the sociology and psychology of morality. But here the ethics of not regained its main recipient – specifically happy and suffering human. What is good for the team can suppress the identity and vice versa. If approached by Engels, life is a form of protein bodies, in the frame to be social and moral issues. So, if to consider the issue from the side of social life, there are still some unresolved biological and moral issues. (Snyder, 2006).

The latest period, which is now considered the question of what is euthanasia, called applied ethics. It involves a very clear delineation of ethical categories, depending on what they are used. In this case it is bioethics, and in its way, for example, the debate on abortion, the moral status of embryos and euthanasia.

If the patient diagnosed with incurable disease with unfavorable prognosis and they would live no more than six months, they must twice verbally and once in writing to ask for euthanasia. These conditions are laid down by law for the above procedure in the U.S. state of Oregon. In doing so, the patient must be conscious and active; the interval between the statements should not be less than two weeks, a diagnosis of incurability confirmed by two doctors. Lethal dose is appointed by a doctor and taken by the patient (Moreno, 1995).

In Japan, the legalization of euthanasia is supported by more than 70 percent of the population and more than 80 physicians. However, a doctor who disconnects life-support system, threatening to jail, and several Japanese doctors are already there. Nevertheless, Japanese proponents of the bill created a one hundred thousandth civic organization called “death with dignity” and have collected nearly one hundred and fifty thousand signatures in support of future legislation. (Manning, 1998)

In these two examples, we see that the developed countries are equally sensitive to the problems as active and passive euthanasia. In Japan, this may be due to traditional attitudes of Japanese culture to death, in the United States – absolute right of any person to the fullest personal freedom. But the culture of these countries, and ethnic, and political, did not decide for themselves what human life is. Is it the supreme value, or the highest value – it is the absence of suffering in life?

In the first case it was a purely religious point of view. Churches overwhelmingly condemned euthanasia, equating it to murder or suicide. The second – this is a purely technological viewpoint on the problem. It affects those not particularly moral factors, such as overcrowding, aging of society, lowers the productivity, a gradual redeployment of the budget was not in favor of workers and for the disabled, the sick and elderly (Snyder, 2006).


There are three approaches to the issue of euthanasia, and all of them are still at a standstill:

  1. If death is traditionally understood as the cessation of all functions of the human body, then we should not speak about euthanasia.
  2. If death – is getting rid of needless suffering in the irreversible process of dying, then euthanasia – it is simply a choice between life and death, long or quick.
  3. If you mainly take the death of the brain, the subject of euthanasia and will be subject to increasingly large groups of patients, let alone dying. This aspect has quite grim group of allies, represented by advocates of transplantation of internal organs.

So, there is a question if death is a law or just its violation. From the point of view of nature – it is natural law, but from the point of view of judicial system – it is a violation of human rights. And since life regarded as a blessing, the charity requires to retain or extend it. But if euthanasia is death for own benefit, the charity must be in favor of euthanasia.


  1. Moreno Jonathan. 1995. Arguing Euthanasia: The Controversy Over Mercy Killing, Assisted Suicide, And The “Right To Die”, Touchstone
  2. Snyder Carrie L. 2006. Euthanasia (Opposing Viewpoints), Greenhaven Press
  3. Manning Michael .1998. Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide: Killing or Caring? Paulist Press; 1 edition

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