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Passive Euthanasia: What is it and when it is resorted to?

BY: SEdwin | Category: Social Issues | Post Date: 2010-02-24

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Euthanasia is a very important thing that is being talked about a lot in various forums, debates and other places. Allowing a person to die by withholding available treatment is called passive euthanasia. The reason for this is that the sick person is not able to do any activity and they are in a stage which is considered by most physicians to be medically irreversible. This causes the family also to lose hope and so ask the physicians to avoid treating the person. This method in which the person may lose the life because they are not immediately treated is called as passive euthanasia.

There are various other aspects that are involved in this method of withholding the treatment to the sick person. Some people decide on the severity of the sickness and the ability of the person to recover and have a productive life before deciding on withholding treatment. There are other people who decide on passive euthanasia based on other factors like the advice of the physicians. There is no fixed method of deciding for passive euthanasia in some counties and this makes it very contentious issue. There are various factors that determine if a person can be passively euthanized and they are as follows:

Dementia patients:

A survey in England showed that caregivers agreed that dementia patients should not receive treatments when critically ill. This is a condition where the person is not severely ill physically by which I mean to say that they are not brain dead that the treatment can be withheld. All they have is a decrease in the memory or an absence of memory. Withholding treatment to these groups of people can be a very dangerous precedent.

Courts and passive euthanasia:

Most cases of passive euthanasia end up in court which has asserted that without advance directives, nourishment cannot be stopped. This is the main reason for the various hospitals trying to get the undertaking from the family members before stopping the nourishment. When this practice may not be enough in the cases where there is lack of transparency. The government directives should be followed if there is a particular law in the country. There are various situations where the law is not present and so passive euthanasia is not done.


In spite of the various laws and regulations there are many cases of reported and also unreported passive euthanasia that are present. This is a ethical problem if the physicians or the hospitals withhold the treatment for the person who is suffering from a sickness. These ethical problems can be very troublesome for the whole hospital with a lot of other legal implications. These should all be kept in mind when one thinks of passive euthanasia.

Though there are certain countries that allow euthanasia, either passively or actively, there is a great difficultly in the uniformity of the mechanism. There are also various other issues involved in this method of treating or not treating a patient. Most of these cases are also involved in legal problems.

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