Active euthanasia is a term that describes the active acceleration of “good” death through the use of drugs either by oneself or with the help of a doctor. In other words, it is the practice of injecting a lethal dose of medication to a patient with the sole intention of ending the patient’s life either with or without the patient’s request (Bernards 87). This type of euthanasia is different from passive euthanasia. In passive euthanasia, doctors or health practitioners withhold treatment from a patient in order to ensure the patient’s death.
The comparison between the two categorizes active euthanasia as the most controversial and only legal in a number of countries and regions. The reason as to why it is the most controversial is because it involves the active participation of a doctor in ending a patient’s life. Most doctors perform this practice only if an individual is suffering from a disease that has greatly reduced the patient’s quality of life. Additionally, doctors can undertake the practice to patients who repeatedly ask for it or to patients who suffer illnesses that have no foreseeable treatment.
There are a number of ways in which active euthanasia can be carried out. The most common method is that of increasing and overdosing medication which is used for reducing pain. This method ensures that the patient feels no pain, while the process of shutting down his or her physiological system continues. Secondly, as stated in the introduction, another method of carrying out active euthanasia is through the use of lethal injection, which is poison. Unlike in overdosing medication, this type of euthanasia entails mixing lethal chemicals, such as those used in executing criminals and injecting them to a patient. This method may be painful to the patient, but it works rapidly.
The other common method used in active euthanasia is that of asphyxiation through oxygen deprivation. Here, a patient is put in a system which only pumps inert gases, such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide. This deprives the patient from oxygen required for breathing and slowly stops the breathing process of an individual resulting into death (Carrier 63). Compared to the two process discussed above, this method of administering active euthanasia is the most painful and takes a longer period of time.
Based on my judgment and the research I have done, I believe that active euthanasia is morally justifiable. One of the main reasons as to why active euthanasia is performed is to relieve suffering of a patient (Carrier 63). Many patients who undergo this process have illnesses that cannot be treated and in the long run lead to the patient’s death. Hence, since a patient’s suffering would be reduced, it is justifiable if administered. Secondly, as compared to passive euthanasia, this type of euthanasia is less painful as it does not increase a patient’s suffering. Methods used in passive euthanasia include turning off respirators, stopping medications, halting food and water all in the name of making a patient die. Such processes increase patients’ suffering as they take much time and worsen patients’ illness. Thirdly, active euthanasia is justifiable only if it is voluntary. Voluntary euthanasia means that a patient has given the doctor consent to carry out the procedure. Every individual has a right to die, and in such a case, the patient is only practicing his or her right. Even though patients may give doctors or health practitioners their consent, doctors should carefully analyze the real cause of a patient’s decision. In doing so, doctors can identify the justifiable reason to carry on with the process. Although opponents of active euthanasia argue that this method undermines the value and respect for human life, and contradicts with the religious beliefs of many people, it is a rational way of dealing with human suffering.