What is euthanasia?

Euthanasia is an act or omission which of itself and by intention causes death, with the purpose of eliminating all suffering. It is done to someone – e.g. a lethal injection by a doctor or nurse.
As stated by the World Medical Association, euthanasia is incompatible with the practice of medicine as it involves a deliberate act with the intention to kill.
Euthanasia must be distinguished from the decision to forego medical procedures that that no longer correspond to the needs of the patient (disproportionate, overly burdensome or futile treatment). This is entirely ethical and a decision between a patient and their doctor.

Euthanasia does not include the administration of drugs intended for pain relief that may result in the patient’s life being foreshortened. It is not euthanasia to provide adequate pain relief – even sedation if necessary. The intention to relieve pain is noble and ethically sound medical practice. The intention to kill a person is entirely different.

Properly trained palliative care physicians know the clear difference between pain relief and causing death.  
The Victorian legislation allows for both euthanasia and assisted suicide. 


When Life is Ending

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