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Euthanasia derived from the Greek word eu-thanatos meaning simply a good death is an issue that challenges our hearts and our minds This paper attempts to identify and clarify the activepassive distinction inherent in the debate on euthanasia before concluding through an analysis of writers such as Rachels and Foot that the distinction is in itself morally important Passive euthanasia is defined as allowing a patient to die by withholding treatment while active euthanasia is defined as taking measures that directly cause a patients death Essentially the terms active and passive address how close the causal connection is between an action and an individuals death Those who state that active termination of a patients life can never be justified appeal to many strong arguments in support of their assertion Firstly it is thought that if a person seeks to end their life through active euthanasia then they intrinsically contradict the value of their autonomy Secondly active euthanasia violates the fundamental prohibition against killing except of course in the case of self-defense or defense of others Thirdly it is thought that there would be a general reduction of respect for human life if official barriers to killing were removed and lastly it is believed that if made a public policy active euthanasia could lead to involuntary euthanasia Those who argue against active euthanasia understand that there is a demand for active euthanasia as a response to the fear of entrapment in a technologically sophisticated seemingly uncaring world of medicine Nevertheless it is my view that unrestrained freedom to end ones life or to have it ended by a physician ought not to be the only response to that fear nor is such a response without grave social implications I agree with the conclusion of advocates against active euthanasia who state that there must be better palliative care for those who suffer tremendously and for the terminally ill rather than to actively
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