In euthanasia and physician assisted suicide, the bioethical heart of the matter is the moral rightness of
killing or letting die for the good of the patient.
Euthanasia can be characterized as directly or indirectly bringing about death of another person for the
The term derives from the Greek words meaning good death and evokes the idea that causing or
contributing to someone’s end may bestow on that person a good.
Death is usually considered an evil, perhaps the greatest evil, but many think it can be a blessing if it
spares someone from a slow, horrific dying or a hopeless vegetative sleep.
It involves performing an action that directly causes someone to die, what most people think of as
mercy killing. Giving a patient a lethal injection to end his suffering is a case of active euthanasia.
Allowing someone to die by not doing something that would prolong life. It includes removing patients
feeding tube or respirator, failing to perform necessary surgery and refraining from giving life saving
Active euthanasia is killing but passive euthanasia is letting die
Passive euthanasia may be moral but active euthanasia is not.
Many argue that there is no moral significant difference between mercifully killing a patient and
mercifully letting the patient die. In both situations the doctor causes the patient’s death by either
intentionally doing something in the one instance or intentionally refraining from doing something in
Refers to situations in which competent patients voluntarily request or agree to euthanasia,
communicating their wishes through instructions to be followed if they become incompetent.
Refers to when patients are not competent to choose death for themselves and have not previously
disclosed their preferences. In these circumstances, the patient’s family, physician or other officially
designated persons decide for the patient.
Refers to bringing about someone’s death against her will or without asking for her consent while she is
competent to decide.