Euthanasia engenders debates over courage and cowardice, glory and defeat, and dignity and suffering. Ultimately, the euthanasia debate is about who we are as human beings. Are we masters of ourselves, if not of our universe, or are we more like subjects of a ruler whose reasoning we struggle to understand? Are we Prometheus or are we Job?

All concerns over end-of-life decision making ultimately are concerns about euthanasia. For those who follow in the footsteps of Job, euthanasia is a dangerous concept, and the word itself has only negative connotations. For those who follow in the footsteps of Prometheus, the word euthanasia harks back to its original meaning in the Greek: ευθανασíα: ευ, eu, meaning “good,” and θάνατος, thanatos, meaning “death.”

In some major respects, the ...

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