Activevs. Passive euthanasia

Thestandard definition of the term is the termination of ahuman life to put to an end their suffering from a terminal diseaseor condition (Crocker,2013). Many of the people who assist people to die to end unnecessarysuffering do it out of pity hence the name mercy killing to describeeuthanasia. There are two broad categories of euthanasia, active andpassive. According to Crocker, active euthanasia is the purposefulact to cause the death of a terminally ill patient through the use offatal drugs (2013). On the other hand, passive euthanasia is theplanned withholding or withdrawal of life-supporting medicaltreatment to fasten the death of a terminally ill patient.

EthicalIssues Surrounding Active and Passive

Upto date, many moral arguments oppose active euthanasia and compare itmurder. Active euthanasia is morally wrong since it is equivalent totaking human life, which is considered sacred and should be preservedat all cost (Hilliard,2000). However, an argument supporting active euthanasia is that itis more ethically right compared to passive euthanasia. According tosupporters of active euthanasia, the act results in a quick andpainless death as opposed to passive euthanasia that allows asluggish and painful death.

Fromthe utilitarian point of view, there is no difference between killingand allowing someone die, since both decisions result into similaroutcomes with similar impacts on the people affected by the decision(Crocker, 2013). Another ethical argument supporting activeeuthanasia points out that the action is ethical and moral since itproduces more good than harm. From the moral values that shape thesociety such as mercy and compassion, no person should be allowed toundergo a slow and painful death, and hence active euthanasia shouldbe authorized.

Inmany nations such as many states in the United States of America,passive euthanasia is legal. Advocates of passive euthanasia arguethat the act is ethical since it allow a patient to make the decisionabout when and how to die and such a decision should be respected(Crocker, 2013). Passive euthanasia respects autonomy by respectingthe patient`s right to make decisions about his life as long as thedecisions do not endanger the lives of other persons. Passiveeuthanasia is considered ethical since it allows a patient to choosea dignified death as opposed to suffering and pain experienced whileon life-prolonging medical treatment (Hilliard,2000). The decision to prolong an individual`s life through lifesupporting treatment should rest in the hands of law or anotherperson. Instead, passive euthanasia should be made legal in allnations to honor terminally ill patients“ rights.

Asecond argument supporting passive euthanasia is that it is ethicaland moral since the patient dies from a natural cause of an incurabledisease instead of killing as is the case with active euthanasia. Byletting a person die, a physician should not be viewed as inhumansince life-support machines or treatment merely delays death that isinevitable for a terminally ill patient(George, Finlay and Jeffrey, 2005). Despite the fact that autonomy isused in supporting passive euthanasia, some of its featuressignificantly oppose this form of euthanasia. According to Kant andMill, the rule of freedom prohibits the intentional ending of theenvironment necessary for sovereignty, which would occur by allowingpassive euthanasia.

Anotherargument criticizing the morality of passive euthanasia is thatterminally ill patients who request for euthanasia may be of unsoundor irrational minds leading to unethical decisions. Therefore,honouring such decisions will result into immoral actions. Accordingto George, Finlay and Jeffrey (2005), if passive euthanasia was toglobally legalized, it may lead to violation of human rights ofvulnerable patients. The three authors argue that passive euthanasiamay result into duress of patients undergoing expensive treatments torequest for withdrawal of life-supporting medical procedures.

TheLaws in My State Regarding

MyState is New York. According to the current New York’s lawsregarding euthanasia, passive euthanasia is legal. The law statesthat knowledgeable adults have the right to request for withdrawal orwithholding of any life-sustaining medical treatments. The currentlaw respects an individual’s autonomy and at the same time ensuresdecisions that are made in clinical settings do not cause any harm tothe wider society. It is important to point out that passiveeuthanasia with or without the consent of the patient is legal in NewYork. If the patient is terminally ill to an extent that they cannotmake valid decisions, the people close to him or her are allowed tomake the decision regarding passive euthanasia. However, activeeuthanasia is still illegal in New York. According to the States’law, active euthanasia is equivalent to manslaughter in the seconddegree. According to the current law, active euthanasia, assisting apatient commit suicide and abortion are all illegal and highlypunishable by law.

MyPosition Regarding

Ithink that passive euthanasia is ethical and should be legalized inall states. A person should be given the right to choose a dignifieddeath rather than slow their death and prolong their sufferingthrough life-supporting medical treatment (Crocker,K. (2013). Despite the fact that life is sacred and should berespected and preserved at any cost, there are situations that makelife meaningless and worthless. Life-support medical treatment merelypostpones the death of a terminally ill patient and hence withdrawingthe medical treatment to relieve the patient suffering and pain isethical from my point of view. However, patients should not becoerced by either their loved ones or the physicians to acceptpassive euthanasia. The patients should make decisions without anyinfluence since it is their right and should be respected by everyone(George,Finlay and Jeffrey, 2005).


Crocker,K. (2013). Why and Physician-Assisted Suicide are Morally Permissible.Retrieved from: [Accessed on 17thSept 2015]

George,R. J. D., Finlay, I. G., &amp Jeffrey, D. (2005). Taking the FinalStep: changing the law on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide:Legalised euthanasia will violate the rights of vulnerablepatients.&nbspBMJ:British Medical Journal,&nbsp331(7518),684.

Hilliard,B. (2000). The moral and legal status of physician-assisted death:Quality of life and the patient-physician relationship.&nbspIssuesin Integrative Studies,&nbsp18,45-63.