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  Euthanasia (Greek, ‘good execution’) is the act of killing a hopelessly ill person on grounds of mercy. It is expressly forbidden in the West on legal and Judeo-Christian religious grounds. It is also rejected by doctors when they declare their ethical intent in the Hippocratic oath.

Individuals can declare their wish that life should not be unnecessarily sustained but any person aiding in the performance of the request is in danger of prosecution. It is also illegal to provide help to a person wanting to commit suicide. Other societies have more flexible attitudes, simply allowing people to die, for example, by exposure to the elements.

In recent years, the enormous cost of life-sustaining procedures in the hopelessly ill has been found to endanger the economics of health care in industrially ‘advanced’ societies. This may encourage some reconsideration of the moral and legal issues, as was the case with slavery when other forms of trade were found to be more lucrative and the moral issue was resolved for economic reasons. TG



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