Involuntary euthanasia is the ending of a person's life without his or her consent, typically due to the perceived lack of worth of that life. The intended semantic difference between this type of euthanasia and murder is that murder is an aggressive act intended to punish, whereas euthanasia is usually used for situations in which life is ended for philosophical or purportedly rational reasons. In many people's opinions, there is no difference between these two terms, nor is there always a legal difference. Generally, when a person refers to involuntary euthanasia it is in a philosophical or conceptual sense, because actually practicing euthanasia without a patient's consent is almost always considered murder in today's legal systems.
When euthanasia is performed without a person's consent, this is considered involuntary euthanasia. The person may violently resist euthanasia if it is being performed actively, meaning that actions are taken to actively kill the person. In most cases, this type of euthanasia is performed by withdrawing care rather than actively killing a person. This may be done without the patient's knowledge, often by a doctor, or without the patient's consent when he or she is mentally incapacitated.
Euthanasia of any type usually refers to the termination of a life due to medical factors or lack of worth. A person who is killed because he or she is severely ill, mentally impaired, or dangerous to society might be thought of as having been euthanized. Euthanasia is defined as an emotionless act on the part of the doctor or person who commits it. This is one of the major differences between euthanasia and murder.
From the perspective of Nazis during the Holocaust, for example, there are arguments to be made that the deaths of Jewish people in gas chambers could be considered involuntary euthanasia. Nazis believed the lives of Jewish people, as well as a wide variety of other people, were worthless and therefore that it was rational to cleanse society of them. Clearly, from the perspective of all other parties and future generations, these actions constituted murder. The determination of what is euthanasia and what is murder is largely dependent on what lives are considered as having worth, and this depends on both the time period and culture at hand.
Involuntary euthanasia is not always considered the same as withdrawing treatment for a person who is dying and cannot legally give consent due to a coma or other impairment. This is usually considered non-voluntary passive euthanasia, which generally means that, while consent cannot be obtained from the patient, the patient's interests are being represented because he or she is going to die very soon and will not regain consciousness at any point. Children with severe birth defects are sometimes subjected to non-voluntary euthanasia of an active type, which is usually thought of as a mercy killing. The legality of these actions depends on the country and area in which the euthanasia takes place, and public opinion of these proceedings may not always reflect the law.