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Euthanasia Definitions   

International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Euthanasia: the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit.

Voluntary euthanasia: When the person who is killed gives consent to be killed. (There are problems with determining what is really voluntary)

Involuntary euthanasia: When the person who is killed is incapable of giving consent or does not give consent.

Assisted suicide: Someone provides an individual with the information, guidance, and means to take his or her own life. When a doctor helps another person to kill themselves it is called "physician assisted suicide."

Active euthanasia: one person deliberately kills another person.

Passive euthanasia: There are two totally different definitions:

a. Removal of life-sustaining medical treatment from a person at their request. Under this definition, the death of the person is not wanted but pain-relief or suffering-relief actions are taken that indirectly likely cause the death of the person. (We at DO NOT consider this euthanasia)
b. Intentionally causing death by withholding or withdrawing necessary and ordinary (usual and customary) care or food and water. (We DO consider this euthanasia)

Some people confuse the issue by using both meanings of passive euthanasia when in reality they are totally different. Some bring up the case of a person who doesn't want to be forced to remain alive by being hooked up to medical equipment. However, the law already permits a patient or their surrogates to choose to stop such treatments.


International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. "Euthanasia Definitions." 2002. provides information for research on euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, living wills, and mercy killing.

Copyright 2002 International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide



Copyright 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved