Mercy killing
Medically assisted suicide
Physician-assisted suicide
Doctor-aided suicide
Passive euthanasia
Helping voluntary expiration
Abetting desired death
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.
1. Euthanasia is open to the most tragic kinds of abuse. In spite of increasing public demand for the legal right to euthanasia, in all civilized countries any kind of euthanasia is contrary to ethical and humanitarian concepts and is punishable as a felony.

2. Euthanasia is [falsely] justified... by misguided pity at the sight of the patient's suffering... What really happens...when people take decisions about life and death into their own hands... is that the individual is overcome and crushed by a death deprived of any prospect of meaning or hope.

[The current] social and cultural context... considers suffering the epitome of evil, to be eliminated at all costs. [There is an] absence of a religious outlook which could help to provide a positive understanding of the mystery of suffering. < In the sick person the sense of anguish, of severe discomfort, and even of desperation brought on by intense and prolonged suffering can be a... factor... in deciding to hasten death so that it occurs at the moment considered most suitable... On the one hand, the sick person, despite... increasingly effective medical and social assistance, risks feeling overwhelmed by his or her own frailty; and on the other hand, those close to the sick person can be moved by an understandable even if misplaced compassion [to permit euthanasia].

(Papal Encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, 25 March 1995).

3.... Euthanasia is sometimes [falsely] justified by the utilitarian motive of avoiding costs... which weigh heavily on society. Thus it is proposed to eliminate malformed babies, the severely handicapped, the disabled, the elderly, especially when they are not self-sufficient, and the terminally ill.

(Papal Encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, 25 March 1995).

4. [There are other dangerous] forms of euthanasia,... [such as removing] organs for transplants without respecting objective and adequate criteria which verify the death of the donor.

(Papal Encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, 25 March 1995).

5....Euthanasia becomes more serious when it takes the form of a murder committed... on a person who has in no way requested it and who has never consented to it. The height of arbitrariness and injustice is reached when... physicians or legislators arrogate to themselves the power to decide who ought to live and who ought to die. (Papal Encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, 25 March 1995).

3. Dying can be a rich and meaningful time of life, if the patient is made comfortable, and is confident that he will not be abandoned. The problem is that out of date medical practice, Medicare and insurance regulations preclude patients from receiving intensive end-of-life care, as in a hospice. Euthanasia would not be required if comprehensive palliative care were part of the social health policy.

(F) Fuzzy exceptional problems