RE - The right to life

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Voluntary and non-voluntary euthanasia

  • Voluntary euthanasia is when a terminally ill person asks a doctor or friend to help them die peacefully and with dignity. It can be called 'mercy killing' or 'assissted suicide'. This help may include providing medicines or a lethal injection.
  • Involuntary euthanasia is when a person's wishes cannot be given for some reason, such as being in a coma, or unable to make a decision or express an opinion. In these circumstances it is someone else who has to decide to end a life for that person
  • Although they are not legally recognised in the UK, some people write 'living wills' which detail their wishes in the event that they are left incapacitated, in a coma, terminally injured and unable to express their wishes themselves.
  • Christians have different views to involuntary euthanasia. Some are opposed: If it involves the removal of water or food, some Christians argue that this is the same as killing. It is no different from not feeding a baby, for instance. 
  • Other Christians believe that in some situations, where the person is brain dead, or in a permanent coma, it may be more compassionate and loving to allow the family to begin the grieving process and disconnect the life support machine - 'blessed are the merciful'

Active and passive euthanasia

  • Active euthanasia is the ending of a life by a deliberate action, such as by giving the patient a fatal injection
  • Passive euthanasia is allowing a terminally or incurably ill person to die by withdrawing or withholding medical treatment that would only prolong the suffering and have no real benefit. This could include not giving medical treatment, or withdrawing food and water
  • Firstly, both are concerned with a third person's involvement in the ill person's situation, be they a doctor or friend. The morality of euthanasia is not restricted to the wishes…


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