Essays On Euthanasia
Involuntary euthanasia is conducted against the will of the patient.
Voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary types can be further divided into passive or active variants.
The first apparent usage of the term "euthanasia" belongs to the historian Suetonius, who described how the Emperor Augustus, "dying quickly and without suffering in the arms of his wife, Livia, experienced the 'euthanasia' he had wished for." The word "euthanasia" was first used in a medical context by Francis Bacon in the 17th century, to refer to an easy, painless, happy death, during which it was a "physician's responsibility to alleviate the 'physical sufferings' of the body." Bacon referred to an "outward euthanasia"—the term "outward" he used to distinguish from a spiritual concept—the euthanasia "which regards the preparation of the soul." However, it is argued that this approach fails to properly define euthanasia, as it leaves open a number of possible actions which would meet the requirements of the definition, but would not be seen as euthanasia.
In particular, these include situations where a person kills another, painlessly, but for no reason beyond that of personal gain; or accidental deaths that are quick and painless, but not intentional.
The definition offered by the Oxford English Dictionary incorporates suffering as a necessary condition, with "the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma", Counterexamples can be given: such definitions may encompass killing a person suffering from an incurable disease for personal gain (such as to claim an inheritance), and commentators such as Tom Beauchamp and Arnold Davidson have argued that doing so would constitute "murder simpliciter" rather than euthanasia.
In some countries divisive public controversy occurs over the moral, ethical, and legal issues associated with euthanasia.
In some cases, such as the administration of increasingly necessary, but toxic doses of painkillers, there is a debate whether or not to regard the practice as active or passive.
Euthanasia was practiced in Ancient Greece and Rome: for example, hemlock was employed as a means of hastening death on the island of Kea, a technique also employed in Marseilles.
Active euthanasia entails the use of lethal substances or forces (such as administering a lethal injection), and is the more controversial.
While some authors consider these terms to be misleading and unhelpful, they are nonetheless commonly used.