Passive Euthanasia – A dig in the horizon

One of the first questions that many people ask about passive euthanasia is that what it is in the first place. The probable reason for that is the lack of awareness regarding the same. As some may remember, the Supreme Court recently used these words while passing its verdict in the Aruna Shanbaug case. It defined as a process whereby medical treatment is withdrawn from the patient. Normally the patients in these cases are terminally ill. Such steps are normally taken with the intention of making sure that they die earlier. One major reason for such decisions is perhaps to make sure that the patient does not suffer anymore.

What do the dictionaries say?

A lot of dictionaries used in legal and medical circles provide meanings of passive euthanasia as well. They say that in this process some form of support is taken back and nature is allowed to dictate terms. As part of passive euthanasia, respirators may be turned off and medicines can be stopped. Doctors and other healthcare professionals caring for the patient may also stop giving water and food to the patient. In the last case, the main aim is to make sure that the patient is either dehydrated or starved to death.


At times, as part of passive euthanasia, morphine is administered to patients as well. This is done to make sure that the patient does not feel any pain. Normally, terminally ill patients do feel a lot of pain because of their situation. Still, in these cases, the doctors do know that the painkillers have a fatal effect on the patient as well. This is especially applicable as far as her or his respiratory issues are concerned. There is also another kind of euthanasia – active euthanasia.

What is active euthanasia?

In case of active euthanasia, it is the patient who herself or himself requests such a procedure in order to end her or his life. At times, it could also be the ones who are close to the concerned person who may make a request. This happens especially in cases where the patient herself or himself is not in a state to make such a request. Normally, such requests come from the direct family members of the patients.

The moral difference between both

A lot of people around the world consider passive euthanasia to be morally more acceptable than active euthanasia. They feel that it is better to let a person die by stopping treatment than killing her or him with deliberate intent. In fact, in the medical circles also people are more in favor of passive euthanasia than its active counterpart. They feel that with the former they have the leeway to give the patient a kind of death that they desire. The best part for them in passive euthanasia is that there is no moral dilemma as such. However, if they were to actively kill a person – as it happens in case of active euthanasia – there is always some moral issue or the other that they have to deal with.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *