Passive euthanasia Law & Legal Definition


Passive euthanasia is an act of allowing a terminally ill person to die by either withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining support such as a respirator or feeding tube. For example, if a patient requires kidney dialysis to survive, passive euthanasia will be to disconnect the dialysis machine and let the patient die fairly soon. Passive euthanasia also involves the withholding of common treatments, such as antibiotics, necessary for the continuance of life. Passive euthanasia is also known as dysthanasia.

Passive euthanasia can be exercised only by family members, thus imposing a restriction. Because of the potential abuses involved in the concept, the propriety of applying it can be assessed only in the context of a particular case. [In re Storar, 52 N.Y.2d 363, 370 (N.Y. 1981)]