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Physician-Assisted Suicide Kathleen M Foley author of Competent Care for the Dying Instead of Physician-Assisted Suicide believes doctors should develop treatments for the physical and psychological problems of dying patients rather than helping them commit suicide Available data suggests most physicians do not receive training in the care of dying patients Dying patients experience physical symptoms such as pain psychological problems such as anxiety and depression and existential distress described as the experience of life without meaning1 many of the physical and psychological problems can be treated Furthermore legalization of physician-assisted suicide may deter physicians from developing treatments that could enhance the dying patients quality of life Euthanasia by definition means a gentle and easy death the good death of another or mercy killing2 There are two types of euthanasia currently recognized active and passive euthanasia Active euthanasia is the taking of ones own life or being killed for example by lethal injection Passive euthanasia is taking ones life with the assistance of another or just being allowed to die In passive euthanasia we simply refrain from doing anything to keep the patient alive for example refusing to perform surgery administer medication give heart massage or use a respirator and let the patient die from whatever illness is already present It is important to understand the difference because many people believe that active euthanasia is immoral and passive euthanasia is morally all right They believe that we should actually never kill patients but sometimes it is all right to let them die The main issue then is it morally permissible to kill or let someone die who is going to die soon anyway at the persons own request as an act of kindness Throughout history many people have thought that the distinction between active and passive euthanasia is morally
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