X

Dear ProCon.org readers: This non-partisan non-profit oasis of truth on the Internet simply cannot exist without your support. Your donations keep the research flowing, the servers on, and millions of minds fed. Would you consider making a one-time (or monthly) tax-deductible donation to ProCon.org of at least $10? Thank you.
Dear ProCon.org readers: You know the world needs reliable, unbiased information on important issues – now more than ever. That's why you love ProCon.org, a nonprofit educational organization that provides – for free and without ads – nonpartisan facts, well-researched pros and cons, and a platform for critical thinking on today’s hottest topics to millions of students, teachers, and others. Please support ProCon.org with your tax-deductible donation in our fund drive.

If everyone who used ProCon.org donated $1, the charity would be around for decades. Millions visit but few give. This oasis of truth on the Internet simply cannot exist without your support.Your donations keep the research flowing, the servers on, and millions of minds fed. Would you consider donating at least $10 a year or becoming a recurring monthly donor? Thank you for supporting ProCon.org.
SUPPORT PROCON.ORGX





TERMS
A
Advance Directive

B

C

D
Do-Not-Resuscitate Order
Double Effect

E
Euthanasia

F
Federal Patient Self Determination Act 1990

G

H
Health Care Power of Attorney
Hippocratic Oath
Hospice

I

J

K

L
Living Will

M
Medical Futility
Mercy Killing

N
Non-Voluntary Euthanasia
O

P
Palliative Care
Passive Euthanasia
Pathology
Persistent Vegetative State
Physician-Assisted Death
Physician-Assisted Suicide

Q

R
Resuscitate
Right to Die


S
Slippery Slope

T
Terminal Illness

U

V
Voluntary Active Euthanasia

W
Withdrawal of Treatment

X

Y

Z



DEFINITIONS
Advance Directive
A legal document that enables a patient to instruct others about future medical care wishes in the event that the patient is not able to speak for himself. Living wills and health care power of attorney documents are two common types of advance directives.


Do-Not-Resuscitate Order
An order placed on a patient's file that instructs the doctor not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should the patient stop breathing or suffer cardiac arrest.

Read our question: What is a Do-Not-Resuscitate order (DNR)?


Double Effect
An ethical principle that claims it is acceptable if a morally good action has a morally bad side-effect, provided that the side-effect wasn't intended (even if it was foreseen). The principle is used to justify situations in which a doctor gives a patient drugs to relieve painful symptoms, when doing so may shorten the patient's life.


Euthanasia
Euthanasia has many definitions. The Pro-Life Alliance defines it as: "Any action or omission intended to end the life of a patient on the grounds that his or her life is not worth living." The Voluntary Euthanasia Society looks to the word's Greek origins - "eu" and "thanatos," which together mean 'a good death' - and say a modern definition is: "A good death brought about by a doctor providing drugs or an injection to bring a peaceful end to the dying process."


For more in-depth definitions, see our question: What is euthanasia?


Federal Patient Self Determination Act 1990
A measure passed on Nov. 5, 1990 by the US Congress requiring Medicare and Medicaid providers to give adult patient's information about their medical care rights under state law, including the right to make an advance directive. The law also requires health care providers to discuss advance directives with patients as they enter into the health care system.


Read the Federal Patient Self Determination Act 1990 (11 KB)


Health Care Power of Attorney
A document that lets a patient appoint someone to make medical decisions should the patient become unable to do so.


Hippocratic Oath
An ancient Greek medical text that is still recited by many medical school graduates to this day. It requires a new physician to swear that he will uphold certain professional ethical standards. The original version includes provisions against abortion, surgery, and euthanasia.


Hospice
A facility designed to provide a caring environment for meeting the physical and emotional needs of the terminally ill.


Living Will
A written expression of how a patient wants to be treated in various medical situations should he not be able to speak for himself.


Medical Futility
A concept to guide physicians in refusing to administer treatment to a patient who is approaching death, in the event that such treatment can no longer benefit the patient.

Read our question What is medical futility?


Mercy Killing
Killing someone in a relatively painless manner for the purpose of ending their suffering.


Non-Voluntary Euthanasia
A situation in which a physician ends the life of a patient who is not competent and who therefore cannot give consent.


Palliative Care
Care provided to ease the suffering of a dying person when a cure is not possible.

For more in-depth definitions, see our question: What is palliative care?


Passive Euthanasia
When a patient dies because medical professionals either don't do something necessary to keep the patient alive or stop doing something that is keeping the patient alive, such as withdraw life-support. See also Withdrawal of Treatment.


Pathology
The scientific study of the nature of disease and its causes.


Persistent Vegetative State
A vegetative state is a condition of complete unawareness of the self and the environment, where patients show no evidence of sustained, purposeful, or voluntary behavioral responses to visual, auditory, or tactile stimuli, and where there is no evidence of language comprehension or expression. A persistent vegetative state is defined as a vegetative state present one month after acute traumatic or nontraumatic brain injury or lasting for at least one month in patients with degenerative disorders or abnormal development.


Physician-Assisted Death
When a patient dies as a result of the voluntary ingestion of a fatal dose of medication that a physician has prescribed for that purpose.


Physician-Assisted Suicide
When a patient chooses to end his/her own life with the aid of a physician.


Resuscitate
To return to consciousness, often by employing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).


Right to Die
Advocating or expressing, as in a living will, a person's right to refuse extraordinary life-sustaining measures intended to prolong life artificially when the person is deemed by his or her physicians to be terminally or incurably ill, similar to Do Not Resuscitate Order.


Slippery Slope
An argument that an initial action taken will lead to an undesirable event occurring later. In the context of the euthanasia debate, the argument that legalizing voluntary euthanasia/physician-assisted suicide will lead to abuses such as legalized murder.


Terminal Illness
An illness expected to lead to a person's death in the near future.


Voluntary Active Euthanasia
Intentionally ending a patient's life at the patient's voluntary and informed request.


Withdrawal of Treatment
Also known as passive euthanasia, it refers to the withholding of life-sustaining treatment that is keeping the patient alive.