Euthanasia is the practice of ending a patient’s life to limit the patient’s suffering. The patient in question would typically be terminally ill or experiencing great pain and suffering.

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Types of Euthanasia

  1. Active Euthanasia

It is actively murdering a patient by administering a deadly amount of medicine, for example. Sometimes called “aggressive” euthanasia. The person who obeys it is to immediately fulfill the patient’s fear of dying. When euthanasia is operational, “killing on request“ is commonly discussed. If a doctor provides a deadly injection to a patient at the patient’s express request, this is active euthanasia.

  1. Passive Euthanasia

It’s when a dying individual renounces life-sustaining medical procedures to delay death. This euthanasia is frequently desired when treatments neither improve the patient’s health nor offer a longer, better life. The patient decides his quality of life. Refusing artificial breathing or tube feeding and “not continuing or halting” pharmacological treatments are examples of passive euthanasia.

  1. Voluntary Euthanasia

Involuntary euthanasia occurs when a patient explicitly begs to be murdered. The fact that this sort of euthanasia is difficult to distinguish from help in suicide is a concern to her, but it is not a huge one. Euthanasia can be performed in cases where the patient shows a strong wish to die while still aware or when the person involved is taking precautions against the possibility of incapacity to make a choice.

Voluntary euthanasia, according to Singer, should be permitted for those who can no longer commit suicide on their own. He argues that a person’s freedom and desire to die should be honored. According to Singer, a person’s desire to end their suffering should not exclude them from euthanasia. There must be safeguards to guarantee that the legalization of euthanasia does not threaten the public.

  1. Involuntary Euthanasia.

Involuntary euthanasia happens when a person can consent to their death but does not, either because they are not asked or because they are asked but still desire to live. Firstly, if a person who desired to live is killed because the patient was unaware of the impending pain that awaited him, and the other person was trying to shield him from his own, this may have occurred. As a second consideration, involuntary euthanasia could only occur in the most extraordinary circumstances.

  1. Non-voluntary Euthanasia.

As long as a living individual is incapable of comprehending the choice between life and death, then euthanasia is not a choice that can be made voluntarily. Infants with severe disabilities or fatal illnesses may fall into this group, the elderly and the sick. All of them are no longer considered individuals, which makes non-voluntary euthanasia a preferential-utilitarian rationale for taking a human life.

There are two types of non-voluntary euthanasia. On the one hand, euthanasia for (disabled) infants and other cases; on the other hand, euthanasia for people who once were people but lost this status, for example, due to an accident.

What are key disputes in the controversy over euthanasia?

According to proponents of the practice, killing people in the name of active euthanasia is no worse than doing nothing. Voluntary euthanasia proponents frequently argue that patients should be free to end their own lives as they see fit. Proponents of mercy killing claim that letting individuals die who are in terminally sick situations saves the unnecessary and pointless use of further therapy.

As long as they are in pain, killing them protects them from experiencing any more of it. Patients who are terminally sick or in pain should be allowed to die with dignity, proponents of physician-assisted suicide believe. Those who oppose physician-assisted suicide generally claim that it breaches the physician’s duty of care, that it violates patients’ rights, or that killing is always immoral.

Killing vs. letting die.

In the event of a tie, whether murdering a patient is worse or not depends on how you define worse. Letting someone die is considered morally acceptable by most people. Letting an innocent person die is acceptable, but killing an innocent person is not acceptable.

Consider different instances of “letting die.” If we could have called an ambulance and saved the life of our neighbor, some could argue that it’s terrible to allow him or her to die in a car accident. While we let starving individuals in poor nations starve to death, we do not blame ourselves for their deaths because we believe they do not have the right to demand that we save them from themselves. However, we would consider it wrong if someone had murdered a neighbor or starved a community. If a healthcare practitioner murders a patient, we would also condemn them. The healthcare provider who withholds artificial life support at the request of the patient and family to enable the suffering, terminally ill patient to die may be acceptable.

Many people believe that there is no sound moral foundation for making the distinction between killing and letting someone die in the context of healthcare. According to this theory, killing the patient in question achieves the same result as letting him die. Others oppose this and argue that killing is ethically wrong since it differs from allowing someone to die.

Ordinary vs. extraordinary treatment.

Stopping the bleeding, administering painkillers and antibiotics, and setting fractures are all part of standard medical care. On the other hand, the use of a mechanical ventilator is sometimes considered extraordinary treatment or care for patients with difficulty breathing. Withholding or withdrawing artificial treatment or care, according to some ethicists, is acceptable; withholding or withdrawing routine treatment, however, is not. A lot of people don’t agree with it. Some argue that the line separating ordinary treatment from extraordinary treatment is arbitrary, fabricated, nebulous, or ever-shifting due to technological advancements.

Death intended vs. anticipated.

Some ethical theorists argue that whether or not a terminally ill patient dies due to pain-relieving medications on purpose is immaterial. If the death was premeditated, it would be unethical; however, if it was expected, it could be justified. The moral principle known as the principle of double effect is used to support this argument.

Where is euthanasia legal in the U.S.?

Euthanasia is more commonly performed on sick or injured animals, as euthanasia for humans is illegal in most of the United States. As of June 2021, the only jurisdictions that allow this procedure are Oregon, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Washington, Maine, Colorado, New Jersey, California, and Vermont.

Each of these states and Washington, D.C., have different legal requirements. Not every case of PAS is legal. In addition, many states currently have PAS measures on legislative ballots, so this list may grow.

Outside the United States, PAS is legal in:

  • Switzerland
  • Germany
  • Japan

Euthanasia, including PAS, is legal in several countries, including:

  • the Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Luxembourg
  • Colombia
  • Canada

Euthanasia facts.

Opinions on Euthanasia

New England Journal of Medicine polled 74 nations in 2013 and found that 65 percent of individuals were opposed to PAS. People in the United States opposed it by a margin of 67%. However, in 11 of the 74 nations, PAS received most of the votes. In addition, PAS was supported by most voters in 18 U.S. states. The two states that had legalized PAS at the poll, Washington and Oregon, were not included in that group of 18 states. There appears to be a quick shift in attitudes around euthanasia and palliative care (PAS).

Many Americans had changed their views when Gallup conducted its annual poll in 2017. Three-quarters of the respondents polled favored euthanasia. 67% of those polled agreed that doctors should be permitted to help patients contemplating taking their own lives. However, according to an interesting survey, most U.K. doctors were against PAS and euthanasia. Ultimately, they could not overcome their disapproval due to religious concerns.

Prevalence of Euthanasia

One study in 2016 revealed that euthanasia accounted for between 0.3% to 4.6% of fatalities in nations where it is permitted. Cancer was to blame for more than 70% of the fatalities. In addition, doctors in Washington and Oregon write less than 1% of prescriptions for assisted suicide.

Controversy around Euthanasia

Morality and Religion

Some individuals consider euthanasia a kind of murder and hence morally indefensible. Also, others say that the right to die as you see fit lessens the sacredness of life. Euthanasia is also opposed by many churches, religious groups, and faith-based organizations for the same reasons.

Physician Judgement

For PAS to be legal, someone must be mentally able to make the decision. On the other hand, determining someone’s mental skills is not easy. According to a recent study, doctors aren’t always able to tell whether someone is ready to decide on their own.


Physicians and those who oppose PAS are concerned about the ethical dilemmas that may arise for them. Doctors have sworn the Hippocratic oath for more than 2,500 years. To ensure the safety and well-being of individuals under their care, doctors are encouraged to take this pledge. Because PAS eliminates pain and injury, some claim that the Hippocratic oath endorses it; some, on the other side, argue that it causes harm to the individual and their loved ones, who are forced to see their loved one’s agony.

Personal choice

The “Death with Dignity” movement advocates allowing people to choose their death. Some people may not want to go through a protracted death process because they are concerned about the stress it places on their loved ones.