Euthanasia

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Euthanasia is the deliberate termination of the life of a terminally ill person in order to end unbearable suffering. Under Anglo-American law all forms of euthanasia are illegal. Most religious leaders see euthanasia as murder.

Most libertarians, many liberals and (particularly in Europe) some conservatives support legalization in some circumstances of voluntary euthanasia, i.e. the termination of a patient's life upon his/her own explicit request. Voluntary euthanasia has been legalized in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and the US state of Oregon. Legalized euthanasia has limitations on when it may be used, such as the approval of a number of physicians when a terminally ill patient suffers from excruciating pain. Opponents of euthanasia maintain that this rarely constitutes an obstacle, as in practice all it requires is a few physicians to authorize it, and that legalization thus violates the sanctity of human life. Proponents of legalized euthanasia, on the other hand, feel that a complete ban on voluntary euthanasia would unnecessarily prolong the suffering of some terminally ill patients.

The widely reported withdrawal of a feeding tube from the disabled and comatose Terri Schiavo, with a court order prohibiting anyone from bringing her water, is an example of euthanasia.