Life and death, dying and killing
Dying is a very important time in people's lives and needs handling with sensitivity. This chapter examines the doctrine of double effect, killing and letting die, ordinary and extraordinary means. It then explains the law as it stands with regard to withholding/withdrawal of treatment, euthanasia and assisted suicide. Euthanasia can be summarised as the premature ending of a life with the intention to relieve suffering. It may be subdivided into active or passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia or 'mercy killing' is ending a patient's life by some active means such as administering a rapidly lethal injection. Passive euthanasia is where life in shortened by not carrying out an action. The chapter provides information on homotransplantation and xenotransplantation that pose complex ethical dilemmas. The Medical Royal Colleges of the UK have stated that organs for transplantation can be removed from anencephalic infants.