Euthanasia is therefore believed to be beneficial to the person on whom it is brought about because it spares him or her from enormous pain and suffering at the end-of –life where death is inevitable. The practice began with the Greeks and Romans who believed that there was no need to preserve life at all cost hence if no relief could be offered to the dying and the disabled, suicide was acceptable. The choice to die is made by competent patient who does not value his or her life as worth while with the assistance of the doctor or choice is made through an existing living will in case the patient is not competent at the end –of –life.
Euthanasia can be active or passive and voluntary or involuntary or non voluntary. Manning (1998) describes passive euthanasia as the avoidance of extreme measures to prolong life for example, by withdrawal of medical treatments whereby the illness is terminal and it results in pain and suffering for the patient. According to McMahan (2002), the patient is allowed to die through withdrawal or withholding of life-prolonging treatments. Active euthanasia I whereby the death is brought about by another person other than the patient himself/herself thus McMahan considers it as an act of killing which is not morally acceptable. Voluntary euthanasia is whereby a competent person makes an enduring request to be helped to die whereas in non voluntary euthanasia, the person is incompetent to make a request hence the decision to end life is made on his /her behalf. Involuntary euthanasia on the other hand, is whereby death is brought about without the consent of the patient. Where the physicians provide patients with a means to end their lives but are not involved in the killing, then it is a physician-assisted suicide which is prohibited by the law (Keown, 2002). The euthanasia debate has been going on for decades as to whether it should be legalized and the morality involved in the process. Some people advocate for proper palliative care as opposed to euthanasia and physician- assisted suicide while others view palliative treatment as causing unnecessary pain and suffering to patients whose life is not worth saving as they would eventually die. They thus advocate for a painless death or what they call a ‘good death’ by allowing patients to choose whether their lives are worth living or not (Keown, 2002). Euthanasia is rejected especially by religious groups on moral grounds as it results to killing and everyone has a right to life as set out by the international convention on human rights. However, the churches do not advocate for prolonging of life either hence patients should be allowed to die. Some others view legalization of euthanasia as a slippery slope to other forms of suicide hence should not be allowed while others see the law as inconsistent in dealing with suicide hence ineffective. The autonomy of the individuals in deciding whether their lives are worth living or warrant termination is also the choice and no clear guidelines to be followed in determining competency hence doctors can misuse their position while performing euthanasia. There is also debate on living wills, the Hippocratic Oath and healthcare spending among other issues which will be explored in this paper but first it is important to understand the history of euthanasia so as to make informed opinions. History of Euthanasia The concept of euthanasia began with the Greeks and Romans according to Young (2007). The early Greeks and Romans