The topic of euthanasia was frontline news in 1992 when a woman named Sue Rodriques challenged the Supreme Court of Canada. Ms. Rodriques suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease and wanted a court order that would allow someone to provide the means to assist her in taking her life at the time of her choosing. Due to this many Canadians began to discuss, and debate, the issue of euthanasia or assisted suicide. Jack Kevorkian has also been a high profile advocate for assisted suicide and has challenged the laws in the US and brought worldwide attention to this issue.
The term euthanasia means "easy death" inducing a gentle, painless death. Euthanasia is the deliberate painless termination of life to prevent unavoidable suffering. Involuntary euthanasia is the deliberate taking of a suffering person's life without the person's explicit request. This is done by administration of painkillers, usually morphine; with the intent to ease a dying person's pain and remove distress symptoms with the understanding the drug may unintentionally hasten the person's death. Active voluntary euthanasia requires the consent of the patient and is putting to death a person who, due to disease or extreme age, feels they can no longer lead a meaningful life. Both Ms. Rodriquez and Kevorkian address the issue of active voluntary physician assisted euthanasia or assisted suicide.
Most people I know have had the discussion about a living will and what they would like to happen to them if they were to be in a position, either by accident or disease, they were to become incapacitated and unable to voice what they wanted to happen for their care, or if they would want to have the right to die. Most often the term dignity comes up in the conversation and stories of witnessing a friend or family member go through a prolonged death when their suffering could have been ended sooner. In 1990 the US Supreme Court ruled that people who…