Essay on Euthanasia Laws

Essay on Euthanasia Laws

Euthanasia refers to the inducement of a quick and painless death to a patient. Physicians use this practice to prevent a person from experiencing severe pain from a terminal injury or disease. Most legal systems have no regulations in place to allow or prohibit the exercise. Medical law considers euthanasia as a suicide if the patient performs it, and as murder if another person does the act. Voluntary euthanasia is a situation whereby the death occurs at the patient’s will. In contrast, involuntary euthanasia occurs when a patient is incompetent to decide, for example, when they are unconscious.

Active and Passive Euthanasia

Active euthanasia refers to a scenario in which one deliberately leads to a patient’s death. For instance, a physician may kill a patient by administering an overdose of medication. On the other hand, in passive euthanasia, a person does not end a patient’s life directly. Instead, they just let them die through omission. Passive euthanasia can happen when medics deny a patient treatment, for example, by switching off a life support machine. Despite this act being a form of mercy killing, most people do not find it morally right or satisfactory. This is since despite not ending the life deliberately, a person is aware that their inaction will result in a patient’s death.

The Legality of Euthanasia in Various Parts of the World

The movement for the legalization of euthanasia started in England in 1935. This drive began with the founding of the Voluntary Euthanasia Legalization Society by Killick Millard. The members submitted a bill to legalize the act, but it got defeated in the House of Lords. The USA also formed the Euthanasia Society of America in 1938, and Oregon became the first state to decriminalize assisted suicide. Later in 2001, Netherlands pioneered the legalization of euthanasia. Belgium followed suit in 2002, and far ahead in 2009, the South Korea Supreme court acknowledged a right to die with dignity. This occurred when the court approved a request made to remove a brain-dead woman from life support systems.

Up to date, euthanasia is legal in some countries such as Norway, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Netherlands. However, Switzerland only allows physician-assisted suicide. Most countries regard both active and passive euthanasia as criminal homicide. Only a few states in the USA, like Washington, Oregon, and Montana, recognize active euthanasia as a legal act. Contrarily, all USA jurisdictions consider passive euthanasia legal because it does not involve any act of killing. One form of passive euthanasia, Do Not Resuscitate (DNR), is a legitimate medical order. It is illegal to carry out both active and passive euthanasia in India. Nonetheless, there are several occasions in which courts’ rulings favored passive euthanasia.


Published on: 15 May 2020

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