euthanasia

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Related to Assisted dying: euthanasia, Dignitas

euthanasia

(yo͞o'thənā`zhə), either painlessly putting to death or failing to prevent death from natural causes in cases of terminal illness or irreversible coma. The term comes from the Greek expression for "good death." Technological advances in medicine have made it possible to prolong life in patients with no hope of recovery, and the term negative euthanasia has arisen to classify the practice of withholding or withdrawing extraordinary means (e.g., intravenous feeding, respirators, and artificial kidney machines) to preserve life. Accordingly, the term positive euthanasia has come to refer to actions that actively cause death. The term passive euthanasia is used when certain common methods of treatment, such as antibiotics, drugs, or surgery, are withheld or a large quantity of needed but ultimately lethal pain medication is supplied. By the end of the 20th cent. passive euthanasia was said to be a common practice among U.S. hospitals and physicians. With regard to euthanasia in animals, there are strict rules and guidelines that ensure ethical euthanasia and disposal.

Much debate has occurred in the United States and other nations among physicians, religious leaders, lawyers, and the general public over the question of what constitutes actively causing death and what constitutes merely allowing death to occur naturally. The physician is faced with deciding whether measures used to keep patients alive are extraordinary in individual situations, e.g., whether a respirator or artificial kidney machine should be withdrawn from a terminally ill patient. The Supreme Court's decision in Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Dept. of Health set a precedent for the removal of life-support equipment from terminal cases.

Popular movements have supported the legalization of the living willliving will
or advance health care directive,
legal document in which a person expresses in advance his or her wishes concerning the use of artificial life support and other medical treatment should the person be unable to communicate such wishes due the effects of
..... Click the link for more information.
, a statement written by a mentally alert patient that can be used to express a wish to forgo artificial means to sustain life during terminal illness. In 1977, California became the first to pass a state law to this effect, known as the death-with-dignity statute. The absence of a written living will complicated the case of Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman who was in a persistent vegetative state from 1990 until 2005, when she died after having her feeding tube removed. In 2000 her husband, who was her legal guardian, won the right to remove it based upon what he stated were her orally expressed wishes, but legal challenges from her parents and Florida governor Jeb Bush and attempted government interventions through Florida and federal legislation delayed the tube's removal for five years. (See Schiavo caseSchiavo case,
the legal battles over the guardianship and rights of Theresa Maria Schindler Schiavo (1963–2005). Terri Schiavo was incapacitated and hospitalized in 1990, after she collapsed when her heart stopped beating due to a potassium imbalance, and her brain
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.)

Societies advancing the cause of positive euthanasia were founded in 1935 in England and 1938 in the United States. End-of-Life Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society) is one controversial group that has pressed for right-to-die legislation on a national level. Positive euthanasia is for the most part illegal in the United States, but physicians may lawfully refuse to prolong life when there is extreme suffering.

In the early 1990s, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a Michigan physician, gained notoriety by assisting a number of people to commit suicide and became the object of a state law (1992) forbidding such activity. Kevorkian, who had been tried and acquitted repeatedly in the assisted deaths of seriously ill people, was convicted of murder in Michigan in 1999 for an assisted suicide that was shown on national television. Meanwhile, in 1997, the Supreme Court upheld state laws banning assisted suicide (in most U.S. states assisting in a suicide is a crime).

In Oregon in 1994, voters approved physician-assisted suicide for some patients who are terminally ill (the patients must administer the drugs); the law went into effect in 1997, following a protracted court challenge. In 2001 the Bush administration sought to undermine the law with a directive issued under the federal Controlled Substances Act, but Oregon sued to prohibit the enforcement of it, and the Supreme Court ruled (2006) that the federal government had exceeded its authority. Similar measures have since been approved, by voters, legislators, or the courts, in Washington state (2008), Montana (2009), Vermont (2013), California (2015), Colorado and the District of Columbia (2016), and New Jersey and Maine (2019).

Since 1937 assisted suicide has not been illegal in Switzerland as long as the person who assists has no personal motive or gain. In 1993, the Netherlands decriminalized, under a set of restricted conditions, voluntary positive euthanasia (essentially, physician-assisted suicide) for the terminally ill, and in 2002 the country legalized physician-assisted suicide if voluntarily requested by seriously ill patients who face ongoing suffering. Belgium (2002), Luxembourg (2008), and some other nations and juridictions also have legalized physician-assisted suicide for certain patients who request it, and Canada's supreme court has overturned (2015) laws against physician-assisted suicide.

See also bioethicsbioethics,
in philosophy, a branch of ethics concerned with issues surrounding health care and the biological sciences. These issues include the morality of abortion, euthanasia, in vitro fertilization, and organ transplants (see transplantation, medical).
..... Click the link for more information.
.

Bibliography

See P. Singer, Rethinking Life and Death (1994); H. Hendin, Suicide in America (rev. ed. 1995). See also studies by J. Rachels (1986) and R. Wennberg (1989).

euthanasia

[‚yü·thə′nā·zhə]
(medicine)
The act or practice of putting to death or allowing the death, in a relatively painless way, of persons or animals with incurable or painful disease.

euthanasia

the act of killing someone painlessly, esp to relieve suffering from an incurable illness
References in periodicals archive ?
He has campaigned to make assisted dying legal here, calling it "one of the last great human rights issues to be tackled".
Sir Vince said: "One thing on my conscience is that in my 20 years as an MP, two constituents came to see me to request help and political support for a campaign in the High Court to be allowed to die through assisted dying and, although I expressed sympathy, as one would expect, I declined to support their campaign.
This is the approach that was taken in Carter v Canada, the case that ultimately prompted law change on assisted dying in Canada.
The new campaign has given personal stories of people with terminal illnesses who want to die at a time of their choosing and it urges politicians and the public to back the campaign to make assisted dying legal.
Assisted dying is illegal in UK, with doctors facing a jail term of up to 14 years under the Suicide Act 1961.
A cross-party group at Holyrood has been established to look at the prospect of a fresh attempt to introduce assisted dying. Legislation appears unlikely in the current parliament, but campaigners are poised to launch a renewed drive in the new year to win over the public and politicians.
The submission also contains members' specific comments on a range of topics pertaining to medically assisted dying. Topics include the need for clear guidelines, improved palliative care services, the costs of medically assisted dying, patient autonomy, cultural needs, impact on vulnerable people and advance directives.
Oregon thus became the first state in the United States that legalized assisted dying of terminally-ill patients.
End-of-life decisions are categorised into the following four practices by the legal fraternity: (i) terminal pain management; (ii) withholding or withdrawing of potentially life-sustaining treatment; (iii) advance directives; and (iv) assisted dying. Patients in SA have the right to affordable palliative care in the case of a terminal illness.
The assisted dying bill was last visited in 1977, when Northern Territory briefly introduced the Terminally Ill Act, but which was overturned by the federal parliament.
Campaigners at Dignity in Dying will release data which reveals 53 per cent of people would contemplate killing themselves at clinics such as Dignitas while ever assisted dying in the UK is illegal.

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