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Hot Topics - Euthanasia


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Euthanasia is defined by the Oxford Concise Dictionary as "the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable disease or in an irreversible coma". Euthanasia is defined by the Oxford Concise Dictionary as "the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable disease or in an irreversible coma".

The word comes from the Greek words "eu" (well) and "thanatos" (death), and is generally used to indicate voluntary, rather than compulsory, euthanasia.
The subject is highly contentious and raises a host of moral, ethical and theological questions.

The Legal Situation

The legal situation with euthanasia is hazy, at best, and is subject to change over the years. In 1996, the Northern Territory of Australia became the first place in the world where euthanasia was legal, but that decision was overturned nine months later. In April 2002, Holland - a country that had practiced euthanasia unofficially for several decades - passed a law to legalize the practice. Other countries such as Belgium and France, for example, pledged to look again at their legal stance on euthanasia in the light of Holland's action. Belgium, Switzerland and Holland legally authorize assisted suicide - where patients administer the lethal medication themselves.

England

In England, euthanasia is regarded as murder, a crime that can result in a life sentence, and assisted suicide is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment. The topic was brought back into the limelight with the case brought in the European Court of Human Rights in 2002 by Diane Pretty. Mrs. Pretty, who suffered from motor neuron disease, claimed that British courts were contravening her human rights by refusing her husband the right to assist her to die. The Court ruled against her in April of that year; she died two weeks later

A selection of web sites

www.bbc.co.uk/religion/ethics/euthanasia/

BBC site offering an introduction to the issue, the pro and anti arguments and perspectives from various religions.

www.carenotkilling.org.uk

Anti-euthanasia organisation.

www.dignityindying.org.uk

Campaigning organisation promoting patient choice at the end of life.

www.euthanasia.com

Information for research on euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, living wills & mercy killings. (US site)

www.internationaltaskforce.org

International task force on euthanasia and assisted suicide.


Journals

Name

Location

New Humanist

BQ 144 open shelf


Resources

To find out what's in stock in Birmingham Libraries about euthanasia, please use the online library catalogue. Simply type euthanasia in the Keyword Search box.

If you are going to travel to a library to collect a book, please phone first to make sure it is on the shelf.

Found a broken link on this page? Please email libraries@birmingham.gov.uk

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