Euthanasia is a term which generally applies to the measures by which physicians seek to remove or alleviate the distress attending the approach of death in the course of a chronic disease. The removal of pain is regarded as essential for an 'easy death'. In a more specific sense, the term also implies the means of bringing on an 'easy death' by legally putting to immediate death one who suffers from an incurable disease and who prefers this kind of death to being tormented for a lengthy period before an eventual, painful death.
Passive euthanasia is a type of planned death that is reported to be common in the USA. A doctor sends a terminally ill patient home from hospital with a large dose of painkillers on the implicit understanding that the patient is going home to die as painlessly as possible.
In 1995 in the Netherlands, 40% of the requests for doctor-assisted suicide were carried out. 591 euthanasia deaths were reported in 1991 and had risen to 1436 cases by 1994.