by K-Dean

With our aging population we will likely find the debate on Euthanasia becoming more prominent and in more immediate discussion.

The word ‘Euthanasia’ comes from the Greek language “eu” which means good and “thanatos” means death. The meaning of the word has evolved from good death. Euthanasia refers to ending a life in order to avoid pain and suffering.

Throughout history the term euthanasia has been used in different instances. The first apparent usage of the term belongs to the historian Suetonius who described how the Emperor Augustus died as quickly and without suffering in the arms of his wife, Livia. This was the euthanasia he had wished for.

The first time the word was used in a medical context was in the 17th century by Francis Bacon. The term inferred that it was a doctor’s responsibility to alleviate the suffering of a body in an easy, and painless way. During the Second World War, the Nazis ran what they called a “Euthanasia Programme” which was supposed to give mercy deaths to incurable patients. What really happened was an extermination of 200,000 physically or mentally handicapped people. They were killed with medication, in gas chambers and by starvation.

Today euthanasia is defined as painless inducement of a quick death. Euthanasia is categorized in different ways, which include voluntary, non-voluntary, or involuntary and active or passive.

Euthanasia today is a common occurrence with pets and animals that are suffering. Many people refer to euthanasia as being put to sleep, destroyed or put down. Pets are usually euthanized by intravenous injection which usually kills the animal in 30 seconds. Other types of euthanasia are inhalants, cervical dislocation, intracardiac or intraperitoneal injection and shooting. Animals can be euthanized for a number of reasons such as terminal illness, rabies, behavioral problems, old age, or no home.

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