A full account of the matter of life and death that is euthanasia. These notes include key terms and definitions, issues about euthanasia, case studies, ethical views, christian views and arguements for and against euthanasia.

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  • Created by: Sarah W
  • Created on: 05-03-12 19:48
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Active Euthanasia: To be active means to be involved with, or to participate in
something. In the case of active euthanasia, this is when some brings about the death of
another person by say giving them a lethal injection, or increasing the dosage of medication
they were on to speed up (or induce) death.
Passive Euthanasia: To be passive is withhold from being directly involved with
something, or not to participate in any active sense. In terms of passive euthanasia,
this is when someone deliberately withholds or withdraws medication, which would
help a patient to live longer (thus resulting in the patient's death taking place
Voluntary Euthanasia: When euthanasia is performed following at the request of
Nonvoluntary Euthanasia: Ending the life of someone who may no longer be
capable of telling those around them that they want to die. Non-voluntary euthanasia
is performed, because it is believed this person would not want to continue living in
the state they are in (E.g. If they were in a coma, or had brain damage).
Living will: Specific directives set out by a patient prior to a course of treatment
about what they want to happen to them, should they become unable to give their
consent later on due to incapacity (i.e. if they went into a coma). At this time they
would also appoint someone known as a power of attorney, to make decisions about
their healthcare. Living wills try to pre-empt some of the moral and legal issues
surrounding cases involving non-voluntary euthanasia.
The law on euthanasia in the UK does not allow anyone to take the life of another person
to end their suffering, or to assist them to do so. If anyone is found doing this, they can be
imprisoned for up to 14 years. However, although it is illegal to actively end the life of
another person, in reality doctors in the UK regularly practice a form of 'passive euthanasia'
when they turn off life-support machines in cases where there is 'nothing more they can do'.
Is it wrong to kill?
The absolutist belief that it is always wrong to kill is a deontological position. It may be
refined as 'It is always wrong to kill someone who is innocent', to allow killing in self-defence
or in war. However, if it can be changed in that way, why not make a rule that says 'It is
always wrong to kill someone who does not want to die'?
Is killing the same as letting die?

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Put another way, what is the difference between acts and omissions? Should the law require
us (or doctors) to act a certain way, or merely stop us from acting in certain ways?
What would happen if we legalised euthanasia?
This is a teleological question. Some people campaign constantly, arguing that there are
many people suffering greatly who would benefit hugely if euthanasia were legalised.…read more

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Kevorkian believed that helping people was not enough, and actually killed Thomas Youk,
filmed himself doing so and showed the film on 60 Minutes. He left the studio in handcuffs,
and, defending himself unsuccessfully in court, was sentenced to 10-25 years in prison. In
2006 Kevorkian became terminally ill with Hepatitis C and asked to be pardoned.…read more

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Is death a proportionate outcome?' This brings in a utilitarian type of
consideration, which we would not expect from Natural Law!
In other words, while Natural Law clearly doesn't support active euthanasia, it may well allow
an action whose intention is merely to relieve pain, even if the action leads to death. There
are natural law thinkers who find the doctrine of double effect difficult to reconcile with
Natural Law thinking.
Situation Ethics
Situation Ethics is easy to apply here.…read more

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What the churches say
The Roman Catholic Church is completely against euthanasia, seeing it in the same light as
"Human life is sacred". "Humanae Vitae", 1968:
"2280: Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who
remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it
for His honour and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life
God has entrusted to us.…read more

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Arguments in favour of legalising euthanasia
People choose to drink and smoke (both of which cause harm to their bodies and can
kill them), so why not allow people the choice as to how and when they want to die?
Some have said that they do not want to be an emotional and financial burden to
their relatives, or society.
A person condemned to death is given a last request, why not people with a terminal
Not all pain can be controlled by drugs.…read more


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