Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Changes in the Language of Dying: some definitions

The original definition of euthanasia derived from two Greek words, eu thanatos -'dying well' or 'good death'. This concept of an easy or good death is one in which the relief of symptoms is sufficient to allow the patient to continue normal relationships and cognitive thought right to the immediate pre-terminal phase of life, without the intrusion of pain or other distress. This original meaning has changed.

Today, euthanasia means deliberately terminating the life of another person by an act or omission in the context of terminal, painful or distressing illness. Mercy-Killing is also used, defining motivation as much as action. In the context of the euthanasia debate it is interesting that groups seeking the introduction of voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide tend to use language which conceals the lethal nature of the acts proposed. One no longer commits suicide- one performas 'self-deliverance'. A physician under a "right to die" law would no longer gie a lethal injection, he would administer an "aid in dying measure" This quote is an excerpt from na book by Joni Eareckson Tada entitled When it is right to die?

We shall be exploring in the next few post different words and meanings within the end-of-life debate.

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The picture of the floating feather was taken by Lutz-R Frank


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