How Is Euthanasia Performed on Humans?

Getty Images/Getty Images News/Getty Images

There are a number of different methods of human euthanasia, most of which can be categorized under two procedural subtypes, notes Medical News Today. Active euthanasia involves an external act by a third party; passive euthanasia is when something is eliminated from a person’s care regime, causing that person’s death as a result.

Human euthanasia is a hotly debated topic, both in the medical and in the ethics communities, and it is currently considered a criminal act to perform euthanasia in most parts of the United States. However, consensual euthanasia is legal in several other countries, including Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as the states of Oregon and Washington within the US.

Voluntary euthanasia, which is euthanasia performed with full patient consent, is also known as assisted suicide. Under this classification, euthanasia can be passive or active. Passive euthanasia involves the retraction of life-sustaining treatment, which eventually leads to a patient’s death. Under some circumstances, a doctor’s prescription of ever-stronger or larger amounts of opioid analgesics is seen as a form of passive euthanasia, notes Medical News Today.

Active euthanasia involves a definitive act, or acts, by a third party, which consensually ends a patient’s life. These acts might involve lethal drugs or a forceful and deadly action. In most US states, this type of act is currently classified as a crime.