Revisiting Euthanasia: A Comparative Analysis of a Right to Die in Dignity

ZERP Discussion Paper No. DP 4/2005

76 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2008 Last revised: 21 Dec 2010

Date Written: November 1, 2005


Euthanasia is a practice that has taken place since immemorial times. And since immemorial times it has been controversial and a source of harsh debates. Throughout the last decades, many changes have been introduced in this field and many practices, until then only taking place without public knowledge, were progressively revealed and regulated.

This paper aims, firstly, at clarifying the terminology and concepts usually used in the euthanasia debate and presenting, in a lucid way, the arguments that civic movements and authors resort to when defending or criticising the liberalisation of euthanasia. Secondly, it describes the legal and social situation regarding euthanasia in several countries, where cases and legislation have demanded greater awareness from society. Thirdly, it attempts to compare the different national situations previously analysed. Finally, it discusses ways of improving the present situation and finding better solutions for the regulation of euthanasia.

In such a debate, where moral, ethic and religious arguments and beliefs are called upon, it is crucial not to lose sight of the foundations of our culture(s) and society(ies). Therefore, this paper, although concentrating on the legal aspects of this debate, tries to take into account of some non-legal aspects which are also relevant and without which it is not possible to thoroughly discuss this issue. Ultimately, this paper does not attempt to portray a neutral position, since legal scholars should not necessarily limit themselves to technical and cold analysis of legal provisions.

Keywords: Euthanasia, end-of-life, assisted suicide, active, passive and indirect euthanasia

Suggested Citation

Ferreira, Nuno, Revisiting Euthanasia: A Comparative Analysis of a Right to Die in Dignity (November 1, 2005). ZERP Discussion Paper No. DP 4/2005. Available at SSRN: or

Nuno Ferreira (Contact Author)

University of Sussex ( email )

School of Law, Politics and Sociology
Freeman Building, University of Sussex
Brighton, BN1 9QE
United Kingdom


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