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     “Euthanasia” literally means “easy or gentle death” but over recent years the meaning has changed and today it is most commonly associated with the idea of “mercy killing” or intentionally ending a person’s life by some deliberate act.”Voluntary” euthanasia implies that the patient gives his consent and this is sometimes thougt of as “suicide by proxy”.
“Compulsory” euthanasia is when the patient does not or cannot give his consent. Euthanasia is also further divided inti “active” or “passive”:”passive euthanasia is when is person is “allowed” to die peacefully by withdrawal of treatment. Active euthanasia complies the action of intentionally ending a person’s life by the instigation of treatment.
     Euthanasia involves the taking of innocent human life and because of this cannot be entertained lightly. Why we do entertain such an idea must have some basis of humanity and compassion;perhaps our aims are :
1.the relief of suffering
2.the sanctity or quality of human life
3.the ‘right’ of an individual to determine the mine and place of his own death.
     The aims that idealistically are proposed for euthanasia seem to be in conflict with each other and would a Voluntary Euthanasia Bill,such as the proposed by Lord Raglan in yhe House of Lords,be difficult to administer and to prevent abuse of. Lord Raglan’s proposal were two fold :
1.that an adult should be able to sign a declaration in advance to the effect that,if he is considered by the doctor to be dying,no recuscitory techniques should be used to prolong his life or to restore him to consciousness.
2.if a patient was,in the opinion of the doctor,in a “hopeless condition”,the declaration (signed prioly) demands that the doctor kill the patient.
Someone who is in severe pain of under heavy sedetation cannont be considered mentally capable of drawing up such a legal document,even of the person of otherwise legally sane. There are many occasions when a patient who is depressed or in pain may say “I wish it should all end”,yet when the pain has eased will change his mind,althouht his condition medically has not improved.

     When considering the possible result of euthanasia,the patien's relatives,the general community and the health team must be considered. Relatives frequently have guilt feelings about the care of a loved one and what remorse they may suffer from agreeing to an act of mercy killing still has to be disvocered. If the diagnosis is resoundingly correct and blrak probably they will feel that theirs was rhe correct decision,but perhaps there could be a feeling thar the diagnosis might just have been wrong.
     In conclusion it is possible to appreciate the diffulties of the proponents of euthanasia,the snarls and contradictions in its definition;the many facets all linked by a common name yet so completely different. Some of these facets are common practice (withdrawal of treatment),some doubtlessly do occur with tacit consent (overdosing terminal cancer patients with morphine),yet in spite of this,”active” voluntary euthanasia is not generally
Legally the problems of “active” euthanasia are huge and the long term effects on society,patient care and the health team are very much unknown.
Finally why has euthanasia become an issue at all,what are we doing wrong that there should be a demand for mercy killing? Sadly,it must be because our anthusiastic application of modern resuscitation techniques to “all and sundry” has left us a legacy of long term terminal patients who have little or no suppertive therapy. Our mentality seems unable to allow a person to die with digtnty immolated by unneceassary inter ference. Hopefully,in the future,a discipline will evolve that has the understanding and compassion to care for these people and their families,so that euthanasia will again mean an “easy or gentle death”.


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