Saturday, January 30, 2016

What is Euthanasia or Mercy-Killing?

Euthanasia or mercy killing refers to end of life of the patient in order to relieve his/her intractable suffering (Taqi, 2012). It has been and still to date is a controversial topic of discussion and has been described differently in different situations and at different places in terms of ethics as well as law. ‘Euthanasia’ or ‘mercy killing’ as an ‘act or practice of painlessly putting to death person suffering from painful and incurable disease or incapacitating physical disorder OR allowing them to die by withholding treatment OR withdrawing artificial life support measures (Encylopaedia Baritannica, 2015). On the other hand, physician-assisted suicide (PAS) refers to “the self-administration of lethal substance by a person prescribed by a physician” (Churchill, 1994). However, PAS negates the Hippocratic Oath “I will neither give a deadly drug to anyone if asked, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect” (Manthous, 2009). To date, a little number of countries (e.g. Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg) have legalized euthanasia (Pereira, 2011). In Netherland, it took about 30 years of debate in order to legalize euthanasia in the country in 2001 (Deliens & van der Wal, 2003). In United States, although PAS is legalized in some of the states; however, euthanasia is still illegal (Steinbrrok, 2008).

America- the National catholic Review. (2015). Euthanasia in California. Retrieved from:

SB-128 End of life. (2015-2016). Retrieved from:

Churchill, L.R. (1994). Physician-assisted suicide. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 22(87), 44-45.
Deliens, L., vander Wal, G. (2003). The euthanasia law in Belgium and the Netherlands. Lancet, 362, 1239–40.
Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2015). Euthanasia (law). Retrieved from:

Manthous, C.A. (2009). Why not physician-assisted death? Critical Care Medicine, 37(4), 1206-1209.

Pereira, J. (2011). Legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide: the illusion of safeguards and controls. Current Oncology, 18(2), e38–e45.
Steinbrook, R. (2008). Physician-assisted death—from Oregon to Washington State. The New England Journal of Medicine, 359, 2513–15.
Taqi, A. (2012). Euthanasia: is it really a bad idea? Anaesthesia Pain & Intensive Care, 16(3), 226-229.

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