Voluntary active euthanasia (VAE), it is important to provide a historical view of its conceptual origins. Proposals to legalize PAS for the incurably ill became a focal point of public policy debate in several countries toward the end of the 19th century. The role of the physician in dealing with the dying patient received significant attention in those early years. The physician, it was thought could slow down the inevitable process of dying. Modern technology has allowed for early diagnosis, better palliative care as well as more effective pain management making terminal illness more chronic in nature.
Many patients with illnesses such as AIDS and cancer are living longer and dying more delayed deaths. Technological advances in medicine have also contributed to this “prolonged dying” and prior to these advances terminally ill patients died sooner and physicians had no choice but to offer comfort until death.
These advances have helped create a controversy that has opened the doors for increased concern about the right-to-die .
The ability to prolong life and thus the possibility to prolong suffering was a catalyst for many of the contemporary arguments prompting law makers to introduce legislation that would legalize euthanasia and PASThere has been an apparent acceleration in the legalization of PAS over the last two decades which can be attributed in part to the importance culture now places on autonomy, the changing personal and cultural attitudes towards suffering, pain and death as well as the pursuit of happiness and a dignified death combined in new found freedom within the political system of democracy, all drive people towards seeking their inalienable rights including the right to have a dignified death .
Most significant is the modern advancement in medicine even when the quality of life is low and questionable. Modern medicine seems to treat biological life as an absolute value without respect to the values and concerns of the individual. This prolonging of life in this state is deemed dehumanizing giving the pursuit of PAS a human face. This accelerated efforts in legalizing PAS, has raised legal. ethical and moral questions within the medical, theological and legal fraternities and several approaches to adjudicate an ethical position have been made. In this paper, I will explore the theory of Utilitarianism and assess the pros and cons as well as the impact of applying such an approach in regard to PAS and compare and contrast it with a Christian perspective.