Voluntary euthanasia is the termination of a person's life with the explicit consent of that person, typically for reasons relating to health or quality of life. It is usually performed in consultation with a physician or medical professional using a variety of drugs that purportedly end life painlessly. Euthanasia, even when voluntary, is not legal in all societies, and so some people choose to travel to areas in which they can choose to die. For many people, voluntary euthanasia is a question of personal rights, while for others it is a question of absolute morality, which makes it very difficult for consensus to be reached on this issue.
A person might choose euthanasia because death is inevitable, pain makes life too difficult, or he or she has no will to live. There are a variety of other possible reasons that a person might be euthanized voluntarily, but many of these are not acceptable in any location under current medical and legal guidelines. For instance, some people believe that humanity is a blight on the earth, and these people might choose euthanasia as a moral exit from the world. Simply choosing to die is not enough for a death to be considered voluntary euthanasia. Euthanasia is currently a term reserved only for death related to medical, not philosophical, concerns.
While euthanasia is typically performed through a cooperative effort between a medical professional and the patient, it is possible for a medical professional alone to administer the final medication that terminates life. Also, while euthanasia is almost always intended to be painless, there are a wide variety of methods one could use that would cause pain. Euthanasia is sometimes called assisted suicide because the primary different between suicide and euthanasia is the cooperation of a medical professional. The exact manner in which a person is assisted differs depending on the method used.
Typically, for death to be considered euthanasia, it must be legal in the area in which it is performed. When euthanasia is not legal, it is often considered murder. Given that people who choose euthanasia are willing participants in the act, it is often possible to travel to a location in which euthanasia is legal. If it is not possible to travel, a person who is interested in voluntary euthanasia may still commit suicide, although this is not usually a method endorsed by any medical or legal group.
Some people question why legal endorsement of euthanasia is necessary when people are capable of committing suicide. People have a natural ability to die, and with proper research, most people can terminate life effectively. There are convincing arguments on both sides of the debate about voluntary euthanasia. With or without legal endorsement, this procedure is a serious and permanent decision that should be considered deeply by all parties involved.