There is a lot of debate whether a terminally ill man or woman should be allowed to die through mercy killing known as Euthanasia. There are both proponents as well as opponents of Euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. Whether or not a person should be allowed to choose death over life is a debate whose outcome can have serious repercussions on relationships in a family, the bond between a doctor and his patients and the basic human instincts. Many people do not know the subtle difference between euthanasia and physician assisted suicide though the outcome of both is the same, ending misery for the person who is terminally ill and does not want to remain hooked up to life prolonging machines. Let us find out the differences.
While Euthanasia is banned in most countries and all states in US, it is physician assisted dying or PAD that has been allowed in some states such as Oregon, Montana, Washington, etc on grounds of compassion. In Euthanasia, it is the doctor or the physician who administers the lethal medication that would end the life of the person, but in physician assisted suicide, the patient, with the help and assistance of the doctor, administers the dose himself. In physician assisted suicide, the patient decides whether and when to take this step whereas, in Euthanasia, it is the doctor who takes this decision as the patient is not in a position to be able to think about suicide or take his life in his own hands.
Religious affiliations have traditionally come in the way of euthanasia and mercy killing. Most Christians believe that ending one’s own life should not be allowed under any circumstances though liberal Protestants have been sympathetic to the cause and even supportive of the issue.
Physician assisted suicide is also labeled as voluntary active euthanasia. This is mercy killing where the patient is aware of the act and even decides the timing and means to end his life. The means such as lethal dose of medication are made available to the terminally ill patient, and he takes it with the help of the physician. PAD or physician assisted suicide is said to be emotionally easier on the doctor as he is not directly causing death of the patient and is merely fulfilling the desire of the patient by supplying him with the lethal dose of the medication that would end his life. Physician assisted suicide has the benefit of allowing the patient to change his mind even at the last minute.
What is the difference between Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide?
• The objective of both Euthanasia and physician assisted suicide is the same, and that is to end the life of a terminally ill patient who does not wish to remain hooked to life prolonging machines.
• In Euthanasia, doctor administers the lethal dose of medication with to without the consent of the patient to end the life of the patient.
• Euthanasia is not legal in any state in US.
• Physician assisted suicide is a type of euthanasia where the patient decides when to have medication that would end his life and the physician helps him in taking that dose
• Physician assisted dying (PAD) is legal in some states of US such as Oregon, Washington, and Montana.
• PAD is emotionally easier for the doctor as he feels he is merely helping in fulfilling the desire of the patient by supplying the medication.