Passive Euthanasia


Passive euthanasia, also known as dysthanasia, a situation where a patient dies as a result of respective medical team withholding treatment necessary to keep a patient alive. The doctor lets a patient die by disconnecting a feeding tube, refusing to administer a life-extending drugs or operation, fails to resuscitate and even switching off life-support machine.

The difference between active and passive euthanasia is that in active, something is done to end a patient’s life while in passive something is not done to prolong a patient’s life. As a matter of distinction, in passive euthanasia, the doctors are not trying to kill the patient but are doing nothing to save him or her. Passive euthanasia is categorized into two; Passive Voluntary Euthanasia, PVE and Passive Involuntary Euthanasia, PIE.

PVE is where treatment is withheld as per the patients consent. A classic example is portrayed when a 25year-old girl slid off an icy road which left her breathless and without a pulse. However paramedics revived her heartbeat and respiration but she never regained consciousness. She spent seven years in vegetative state and feeding through pipe which kept her alive. When her parents wished to remove the feeding tube, it was honored on the ground that she had prior wishes to die in case of such a situation. In another scenario, a 32year old requested that her respirator unplugged after suffering complete paralysis since she was seven years old.

PIE on the other hand is where treatment is withheld without patients consent or knowledge. A 21 year-old girl went in an irreversible coma after mixing alcohol and Valium; a tranquilizer. At the hospital, she was hooked with a respirator and tubes for hydration. She responded to pain, noise and nerves. After staying for months in this vegetative state, her parents requested for detachment of the respirator and feeding tube. Other scenario that portrays PIE is when a car accident victim arrives in casualty, heavily bleeding but then he could be saved. There is only one doctor on call and its home time meaning staying behind to save this man will cost the doctor an hour or so, nevertheless the doctor decides to leave anyway. This man is left to die.

Passive euthanasia remains to be a controversial and much-discussed issue across the globe. In some countries like Belgium, Netherlands and Switzerland, this type of euthanasia is legal. Canadian Medical Association permits Passive Euthanasia and regards Active euthanasia totally wrong. Many religions do not agree with euthanasia as they find it immoral for instance, in Islam, Hindi and Roman catholic all forms of euthanasia is prohibited. Indeed, whether or not Passive euthanasia is a good or bad practice, all lies within the respective situation, law and religion.

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