According to the American Heritage Dictionary, euthanasia is defined as "the act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, as by lethal injection or the suspension of extraordinary medical treatment." Not everyone agrees with this definition. I have always believed that euthanasia was the human choice or nonchoice of ending another person's life because of the excruciating pain they are suffering due to an incurable disease. Some disciplines think that euthanasia should never be an option no matter what the situation. While other disciplines question the validity of the actions of the person helping with the actual euthanasia. Still others support euthanasia in all forms as long as it is performed for the sake of the sufferer. .
There are three types of euthanasia; voluntary active euthanasia, passive euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. In all cases where euthanasia is used the patient must be suffering from an incurable, fatal disease. Voluntary active euthanasia is a "deliberate intervention" by an individual other than the patient, with the pure intention of termination that patient's life. (Gula, 501) Passive euthanasia takes place when the attending physician decides to discontinue therapy or treatment that would help to keep the patient alive, basically letting the patient die without the benefit of medicine or medical procedures. Finally, physician assisted suicide, or PAS, is where a physician "helps to bring on the patient's death by providing the means to do it or by giving the necessary information on how to do it, but the patient performs the lethal act" (Gula, 501-502). Each of these methods is a form of euthanasia or mercy killing but each is different in the amount of involvement by the physician. This paper will explore views from various disciplines about all three types of euthanasia. .
According to the Catholic religion, euthanasia, as well as abortion and contraception, are sins against God and the Church.