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An Introduction to the Different Types of Euthanasia

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Relief from pain, and preservation of health and or life is the basic role of medicine and all the technologies associated with it. However, in some instances where the disease is a terminal one with no known cure, pain is the most devastating symptom. In such a case, the patient might lose any hope and desire to live any longer and wish to end their life. Life sustaining treatment that serves to prolong life without reversing the underlying situation is meaningless and as such the patient might provide consent to undergo death without suffering- euthanasia. Euthanasia has over the years been the cause of debates in many countries with both the law and religion against it. In this essay, I provide an in depth discussion of the variants of euthanasia.

Types of euthanasia

Voluntary euthanasia is when the patient requests for termination of life and gives free consent for it. It is often referred to as assisted suicide or homicide by request. The doctor or nurse under the direct care of the patient might then offer a lethal biological agent with the sole reason of causing death (Wilkinson, 1990).

Non voluntary euthanasia on the other hand occurs when the wish of the patient is not known, as is the case when the patient is in an irreversible coma. The decision to end the life of the suffering patient is not taken by the patient themselves but by the society or a group of individuals or close relatives and family to the ailing person (Wilkinson, 1990).

Active euthanasia is based on the request of the patient that his/her life be ended, so the doctor, or nurse administers a lethal agent with the objective of causing death. The advocates of euthanasia argue that the right to die is implicit in the right of life. They ask that the mentally competent person be given the freedom to make a choice on whether they wish to live or die. As the law stands today, no one has the right to do away with life, whether ones own or that of any other, except under certain conditions such as war or after due process of law as a punishment (Wilkinson, 1990).

The intentional termination of the life of a human being is contrary to the principles and policies for which the medical profession stands irrespective of the situation of the patient.

Passive Euthanasia is when there is no active intervention to end life. The doctor stands by passively allowing nature to take its cause. The doctor does not give any specific medication against the progress of the disease. Life supporting measures are also avoided (Wilkinson, 1990).


Conclusively, euthanasia is a controversial process that seeks to bring about death to the terminally ill without causing them suffering. The terminally ill are patients who are sick beyond the point of recovery and who are expected to die after a short period of time. Some of the variants of euthanasia include voluntary, non-voluntary, active and passive euthanasia.

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