Facts and Ethics Behind Euthanasia

        Euthanasia is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary as
"the action of killing an individual for reasons considered to be
merciful" (469). Here, killing is described as the physical action
where one individual actively kills another. Euthanasia is tolerated
in the medical field under certain circumstances when a patient is
suffering profoundly and death is inevitable. The word "euthanasia"
comes from the Greek eu, "good", and thanatos, "death," literally,
"good death"; however, the word "euthanasia" is much more difficult to
define. Each person may define euthanasia differently. Who is to
decide whether a death is good or not? Is any form of death good? All
of these questions can be answered differently by each person. It is
generally taken today to mean that act which a health care
professional carries out to help his/her patient achieve a good death.

        Suicide, self-deliverance, auto-euthanasia, aid-in-dying,
assisted suicide -- call it what you like -- can be justified by the
average supporter of the so-called "right to die movement" for the
following reasons: The first reason is that an advanced terminal
illness is causing unbearable suffering to the individual. This
suffering is the most common reason to seek an early end. Second, a
grave physical handicap exists that is so restricting that the
individual cannot, even after due care, counseling, and re-training,
tolerate such a limited existence. This handicap is a fairly rare
reason for suicide; most impaired people cope remarkably well with
their affliction, but there are some who would, at a certain point,
rather die. We say that there is a second form of suicide; justifiable
suicide, that is a rational and planned self-deliverance from a
painful and hopeless disease which will shortly end in death. I do not
think the word "suicide" sits well in this context but we are stuck
with it. Suicide is the taking of one's own life. Why does...