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Euthanasia In this century and especially in the past decade we have witnessed amazing changes in mans power over both birth and death Radical changes have taken place in beliefs and practices pertaining to the beginning and ending of life Clearly the march of science is shaking the very foundations of our society and will continue to do so even further into the future Euthanasia is defined in Websters Dictionary as granting painless death to a hopelessly ill patient with a non-curable disease The word euthanasia is derived from the Greek word thanatos meaning death and the prefix eu meaning easy or good From 1976 onward there has been a debate about the morality of disconnecting respirators and feeding tubes that keep thousands of people alive in a persistent vegetative state or coma and medically assisting to end the life of an individual that is hopelessly suffering Medical euthanasia is a general term sometimes used to describe euthanasia administered by or authorized by a doctor for the benefit of the individual - to end hopeless suffering or a meaningless existence It is customary to classify euthanasia into active versus passive Active euthanasia means a positive merciful act taken deliberately to end futile suffering or a meaningless existence It is an act of commission death is induced either by direct action to terminate life or by indirect action such as in giving drugs in amounts that will clearly hasten death Some would limit the use to direct intentional action to end life which under present law is murder If the intent in giving drugs is to hasten death as well as to relieve pain that too in now a criminal act though proof of such intent might be difficult to establish Even if a physician provides the means for a patient to end his own life it is against the law in most states because he would be
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