Active and Passive Euthanasia

6 June 2016

By 400 B.C., the word euthanasia insidiously began to raise questions in peoples’ mind when doctors do swear that they shall not administer drugs to anyone to connive with death expectation. The aspect concerned in the Hippocratic Oaths goes does – “I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel…” (Hippocrates, 400 BC). Hippocrates is the father of medicine.

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Till 20th century, English law further reasserted the prohibition in the United State Supreme Court. This led to melting severe punishment to defaulters.  Through a book presentation by a professor of psychiatry, there was a campaign to permit the exit of chronically ill patient in distress. Stressing that it is their right to get freedom out of endless agony without definite help since the surest end is still death. This book gained the attention of Hitler led Nazi Government of Germany in the pre-World War II era.

In 1939, Nazi Government formed Euthanasia Society of England to promote this curse of “letting to die”. Hitler began with the so called “mercy killing” or “elimination of life unworthy of life”, including the sick ones and the disables. Though this was done with lots of abuse, it forms a basis to reckon with in the history of Euthanasia. In the recent years, euthanasia emerge a major subject in the media when a pathologist was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment for conducting a voluntary killing on an alleged 131 patients, using passive means (Ningthoujam, 1999). In 2000, Netherland became the first country to legalize euthanasia followed by Belgium in 2002. Others are Switzerland, Albania, Oregon, and Luxembourg.


The subject euthanasia is a Greek word that is otherwise known as “painless or happy killing” (Pat Milmoe, 1992). The two types of euthanasia are the active and the passive means. There arises at this moment another debate on this salient issue. The reason is not far fetch from the continual conflict arising from the society perception of either of the two types with each struggling for justification of its own method over the other by their active supporters.

Argument presentations on critical assessment of the two are often convincing. Active euthanasia supporters argue that it is important to prevent continual painful experience of a dying patient by taking a step to hasten the dead end. At the same time passive euthanasia promoters argue that it is better said that the patient died of a disease than being killed by a supposed savior. The traditional differences between the two holds strongly on moral justification with less scientific support that sometimes permit passive euthanasia and make an outright rejection of active euthanasia.

Several questions have been raised on this issue. Still I strongly believe the audience are equally burning with questions from the deepest depth of their heart, perhaps, querying the need for euthanasia in the first instance or secondly, justifying a position; either active or passive choice.

Moderator Opening Statement

Sooner or later, everyone ends shall come. It is an unbeatable fact that the two most common journeys is the road to life, and the exit out of the earth. There is yet no discrimination in the journey. What we all concern ourselves about is the situation around the preparation and hoping to have a smooth ride whenever the time shall come. In another contributions to series of debates that have gone ahead of this present moment, it is another wonderful opportunity to partake in this historical landmark, where submissions from our debaters will initiate some thought lifting and enlighten our heart towards taking a final decision on where to belong on the choice of embarking on passive or active euthanasia as the best method of killing the helplessly dying patient on sick bed.

Moderator Questions for the Pro & Con positions?

How would you argue for the advantage of assisting the patient in putting quick ending to a persisting pain that is so unbearable even though we do not feel their pain in the exact way they do?
In what ways do you think active euthanasia will clear the conscience of a doctor killing by taking determined steps at infusion drugs for example, to hasten death?

There has been argument that going against patient voluntary decision to die is against the law, what do you have to say on this?
Some family members who perhaps for the benefit of inheritance advocate for euthanasia, how do we separate this issue of selfish interest from reality? Don’t you think “letting to die” as we have in passive euthanasia is in way similar to active euthanasia since they achieve the same killing end? Help us clearly buttress your argument on this issue.

How do we morally and scientifically justify passive euthanasia with evidence?
How do we morally and scientifically justify active euthanasia with evidence?
With the advancement in Health care facility, what relationships should exist between the choice of palliative care and passive or active euthanasia? To each side respectively.
How would each side convince the audience of a projected good response from diseased relatives on approval of active or passive euthanasia as the case may be?

Hermsen MA, ten Have HA. Euthanasia in palliative care journals. J Pain Symptom Manage 2002; 23: 517-25.

Pat Milmoe McCarrick (1992). Active Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, Johns Hopkins University Press – Volume 2, No. 1, pp. 79-100.  Site available at:

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