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What do the different terms mean?

Euthanasia: The word comes from two Greek words meaning ‘Good death’. It usually refers to painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma.

Assisted suicide: Providing a seriously ill person with the means to commit suicide.

Voluntary euthanasia: The Situation where someone dying in pain asks a doctor to end his/her life painlessly.

Non-voluntary euthanasia: Ending someone’s life painlessly when they are unable to ask but you have a good reason to think they would want you to do so.

Active euthanasia: When medical staff take a deliberate action to end the life of the patient.

Passive euthanasia: When the decision is made to give no more life saving medical intervention to a patient (it could be not resuscitating a patient, not feeding them, turning off a life support machine etc).

Hospice: A place dedicated to the care of terminally ill patients.

EXIT: The Voluntary Euthanasia Society within the UK which believes that everyone should have the right to die when and how they want.

Terminal illness: When a person is suffering from an illness that cannot be cured and will end in death.

Doctrine of Double Effect: The idea that if a person takes an action to attain an effect knowing that it will produce another, they cannot be blamed for the second effect occurring. Therefore if a doctor has to prescribed a pain killing drug to stop the pain of an advanced cancer patient but the pain killers have another effect of killing the patient – that’s ok because the aim is to relieve the pain not kill the patient.


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