The word euthanasia has its roots in the Greek word eu Thanatos, which literally means well or good death. This Greek word connotes an individual ending the life of another, inspired by supporting the best interest of the individual who dies. In this quest the most gentle available means are used. In other words ending life without pain and in dignity while the dying person is calm, serene, and surrounded by family, friends or loved ones (Michalsen and Reinhart, 2008).
In this context, the practice of euthanasia was common in ancient Greece and Rome, where many people especially the disabled preferred to end their lives peacefully. However, after Hippocrates many of his scholars refused this concept. With emergence of Christianity the Hippocratic standpoint against euthanasia strengthened (Gupta et al, 2006). In the 19th Century, Darwin's theory, the Origin of Species, on human evolution introduced the notion of accidental natural mechanisms for selection, which turned to be a man-decided process of selection (Michalsen and Reinhart, 2008). ...
In a natural progression this lead to the ideology of mercy killing to other non Aryan races (Michalsen and Reinhart, 2008).
This essay aims at presenting euthanasia in the lights of different cultures and summarize the current debate reaching an answer to the question when is euthanasia ethical (if ever)
Types of euthanasia
Euthanasia classification is based on two foundations; first the wish of the sufferer into voluntary and involuntary, second is according to the way of carrying it out into active and passive (Goel, 2008). Voluntary euthanasia is when the sufferer expresses the sincerest wish to die and consciously asks for help to carry out that wish. The decision of voluntary euthanasia relates to two brain functions that have to be intact; first is cognition that is the capability to know, understand, analyze and using interpretive strategies. Second is emotional background stability of the sufferer, which affects the individual's ability to assess properly the condition parameters and decision making (Rismanchi, 2008).
Involuntary euthanasia is when there is neither consent nor wish of the sufferer to end life, either because the sufferer cannot express the wish to die (like severe dementia or inability to communicate). Alternatively, the sufferer may be able to express the wish to die but does not give consent or ask for assistance commonly in cases of deep unrecoverable coma (Goel, 2008).
Based on the way euthanasia is carried out, it is further classified into passive and active euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is when terminally ill patients sign DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) consent and allowed to die peacefully. Recently, the European Association of Palliative Care has seriously challenged this concept based on four