Euthanasia is the act of assisting suicide to someone who is unable to do so themselves due to the fact that they are terminally ill or severely disabled.
Active euthanasia is when a medical professional or another person deliberately does something causing the patient to die. Many would say that this is wrong since at essence it is simply taking away life and philosophies such as Aquinas’s natural law would argue that in this case you are not following one of the primary precept’s which is to preserve innocent life. Since we are not preserving innocent life the only other thing that we could be doing is taking innocent; is this not just murder? This would be a deep ethical issue since murder is considered unacceptable in many ethical philosophies and religions such as Roman Catholicism. They would say that euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God since it is the “deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person”- Pope John Paul II
Voluntary euthanasia is when the person who is going to die gives their permission to let themselves be killed. The issue raised by this would be that if suicide is not acceptable then how is assisting someone to commit suicide any better. However the counter argument would be that euthanasia is only when the patient is suffering therefore is it wrong to end suffering? From the perspective of natural law it would have to be taken into consideration that if voluntary euthanasia was allowed then people could easily fake having problems and kill themselves for minor reasons as well as the fact that there are possibilities that euthanasia could be used as a cover up for murder. In turn this would all go against one of the primary precept’s which is to maintain an ordered society.
Involuntary euthanasia refers to a third party taking a patient’s life without the consent of the patient. This situation would most commonly be applied to when a terminally ill person is put down to rest by their family to stop the suffering of the patient and help rectify the mental pain caused to the patients family of watching the patient in physical pain. The issue with this is that if you kill someone who does not want to die is this not just murder? But what makes this bad is that who are we to take life from someone to put our minds at ease. However if we look at this from the perspective of the utlitarianist John Stuart Mill then he would argue that the pain caused to the family is more significant than that which is caused to the patient. This is because of his concept of higher and lower levels of pleasure and pain. He believed that people who had suffered both physical and mental pain would always say that mental pain is much worse. In this case the patient would be in physical pain and the family would be suffering mental pain since. In addition to this if we apply the principle of utility then the majority outweigh the minority therefore involuntary euthanasia would be the best course of action in this situation.
Passive euthanasia is applied in a situation where a patient is on life support but cannot live without it therefore the medical doctors stop the life support. With this the question has to be asked at what point is someone already dead? Since if a person is brain dead but their physical body is still alive then are they still alive since they cannot control the body? This would be considered as a persistent vegetative state. A follower of Kant would say that the person is dead since the can no longer use their rationality. This would suggest that in that situation the passive euthanasia would be fine according to a Kantian.
In addition to this the issue of whether there is anything wrong with us allowing someone to die and is it different to actively killing somebody. Arthur Hugh Clough said “Thou shalt not kill but needst not strive, officially to keep alive.” This would suggest that he would allow passive euthanasia since he