THE DILEMMA OF EUTHANASIA
Euthanasia is one of the methods in the medical field that remains highly
controversial and continuously discussed today due to its questionable nature in terms
of helping someone take their own life. Euthanasia in its essence refers to the practice of
taking one’s life away such that the intention behind it is out of goodness in order to
end the pain and suffering of the person, usually on their death bed. The controversial
method of euthanasia is believed to be at the same level of significance along with
same-sex marriage, terrorism, abortion, death penalty, genetic enhancements and so on. 1
Many medical institutions and social structures ban any form of the practice of
euthanasia. It is understandable that most of the nations that reject euthanasia tend to
be highly influenced by religious values and traditions. Euthanasia has undeniably
posed important ethical and philosophical questions to humanity in terms of how
people should value human life and how a person’s pain and suffering should be 2
Russ Landau, The Ethical Life: Fundamental Readings in Ethics and Moral Problems (New York: Oxford 1
University Press, 2010), 7.
There are two categories in which euthanasia operates in terms of its medical
procedures: passive euthanasia and active euthanasia. The passive euthanasia
procedure is the clinical practice of withholding life-support systems that are the only
remaining means to keep a patient alive. What it does is that any means and medical
functionalities such as machines and medications that are used to prolong the life of a
suffering patient are all cut off. Passive euthanasia most likely happens in medical
situations like some neonatal conditions where babies tend to have some serious
congenital defects, and what follows is that families tend to encounter options that
ultimately involve the clinical practice of passive euthanasia. However, some still argue 3
that the ethical core of passive euthanasia remains faulty, because it is highly contingent
on a case to case basis—one case can be completely different from another.
Active euthanasia, on the other hand, is the medical practice of using lethal
substances (e.g. lethal injection) on patients who are dying, or just patients in general.
Compared to passive euthanasia, active euthanasia is much more sinister in nature. In a
religious perspective, active euthanasia is on par with the idea of “playing God” and
this is extremely controversial and sensitive when it comes to a person having the
power and control over the decision about whether someone will continue to live or
Joel Beckwith. "A Cry For Help: Preventing Passive Euthanasia Decision-Making for Neonates 3
with Non-Fatal Congenital Defects." Journal Of Legal Medicine 34, no. 3 (July 2013): 273.
die. Active euthanasia is also referred to as “mercy-killing” and religious discourses 4
and institutions are ready to call out people who...