euthanasia. assisted suicide

euthanasia: sanctioning suicide out of mercy

assisted suicide: helping someone to commit suicide out of mercy

"Euthanasia" differs from "assisted suicide" in that "euthanasia" is unassisted suicide and thus less controversial.

Jack Kervorkian, the person perhaps most associated with this field, claims to have participated in 130 acts of euthanasia. His single act of assisted suicide, however, marked his undoing.

Kervorkian had previously asked his patients themselves to push the button on his "suicide machine" that triggered their death. But in 1998, facing a patient suffering from advanced Lou Gehrig's Disease, who was unable to control his movements, Kervorkian himself administered a lethal injection.

For more recent examples, consider hospice organizations, which allow terminally ill patients to increase their own morphine intake. This is euthanasia. By contrast, in 2005, when a doctor removed the feeding tube from Terri Shiavo, who for the past 15 years had been in a persistent vegetative state, he was practicing assisted suicide.

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