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A Mercy Killing, Will God Forgive?

Euthanasia is associated with the right to die. Euthanasia means a gentle and easy death. Euthanasia describes the practice of helping ill people die either at the patient's request or by making a decision to withdraw life support. Len Doyle writes in British Medical Journal that active euthanasia occurs when treatment is administered with the intention of ending the patient's life. Voluntary euthanasia occurs when the person who dies has requested to die. Non-voluntary euthanasia occurs the person who dies made no request and gave no consent. Euthanasia by omission involves intentionally allowing death to occur by not providing necessary usual and customary care or food and water. Passive euthanasia involves a situation in which treatment to which the patient has never consented is ended (Doyle, 1079).

The right to die argument asserts that it is morally permissible for an individual or a physician or a family member to end the life of a terminally ill patient. The consequence based arguments relating to the right to die include the idea that life can become so unpleasant that no one would wish to continue it. Under these circumstances, denying patients the right to die with dignity is both cruel and unfair. However, the right to die remains controversial because this society believes that human life merits special protection.

For doctors and family members, the issue of the right to die is most complex when a patient is terminally ill and is in intense pain and asks that their life be ended to escape prolonged suffering. American courts have upheld the right of patients to refuse life-preserving medical treatment. This creates a conflict between society's desire to protect human life and a patient's rights to choose death over an unpleasant or painful existence.

Janis Moody writes in Nursing Standard that there are several theoretical options open to health care workers in the case of


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A Mercy Killing, Will God Forgive?. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:07, November 27, 2015, from
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