Euthanasia and the World's Religions

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How the World’s Religions View Euthanasia

Cheryl Lee Kruse

University of Findlay

BSLA 280.N2

Professor Brougher

December 9, 2010

How the World’s Religions View Euthanasia

There are many contemporary issues pertaining to the world’s religions which have lasted through the years and are still debated today. One such issue is euthanasia. In order to look at how the world’s religions view euthanasia, it is necessary to understand the meaning of euthanasia; and also to realize that with all the advances in medical technologies, the definition of death has changed over the years. Once the definitions have been established, the different types of euthanasia can be determined. The world’s religions that will be discussed in regards to their views of euthanasia include Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Definition of Euthanasia

To understand this issue, it is important to understand what the word euthanasia means. The word euthanasia is formed from the Greek terms eu, which means good, and thanatos, which means death (Larue, 1996). According to Dorland’s medical dictionary, euthanasia means: (1) an easy or painless death; (2) mercy killing; the deliberate ending of life of a person suffering from an incurable disease (Dorland, 1994, p. 588). A more formal description of euthanasia is to say it is the killing of those who are incurably ill and in great pain or distress, where the killing is done for the sake of those killed, and in order to spare that person further suffering or distress (Perrett, 1996). If euthanasia is defined as an easy or painless death, one needs to understand what death is in order to begin to understand the complexities of euthanasia.

Definition of Death

Death is an inescapable fact of life; however, with the advances in science and modern medicine, defining death has become more complex (Alters, 2009). In the past, death was easily defined as lifeless or not living. The criteria...