Right to die

The term right to die means freedom ethics and the consequent legal possibilities granted by the institutions, for each individual , to commit suicide or undergo euthanasia voluntary.

The possession of such a right is often taken to mean that a person with a terminal illness should be allowed to choose freely whether to live or, if he refuses the extension of care treatment, of being helped to die by assisted suicide ; is, in this case, the freedom to choose not to prolong their suffering, when considered going over to their personal dignity human, a request for dignified death maintaining a sense of control [1] . The question concerns: it should be left to the unconditional freedom of the individual to decide to such an act? The answer is often, by those who answered “yes” and those who answer “no”, also at the center of fierce debates.

The right to die is sometimes associated with the idea that one’s body and one’s own existence is a unique individual exclusive ownership (sovereignty and individual autonomy), thus also has the right to reject them; on the other hand it also claims a legitimate interest and reasons of state to want to prevent the physical suppression of its citizens, also supported by a part of the medical world that considers suicide always and in any case as an eminently irrational act and / or caused by problems psychological of the most varied species.

Modern proponents of the right to die instead argue that there may be an established rationality in choosing to voluntarily end their own lives: rationality due to the fact that the decision to kill oneself comes from a free choice and not the individual conditioning agent. A choice that already in the ancient philosophical thought belonged to the Stoics , for example, but also to ‘ utilitarianism both classical and modern; free choice which is also the result of a steady reflection, thus not an irrational impulsive decision and not produced by mental disorders , reached after due deliberation [2] .

Religious views 

Religion Hindu admits the possibility of choosing to die for those who are tormented by terminal illnesses or performed by those who, near the natural end of life have no more desire, ambition or remaining responsibilities: since ancient times, the philosophical thought Indian theological allows voluntary death through the practice of nonviolent fasting led to beyond the outer limits, up to come unto well to the point of starvation. This practice is called Prayopavesa and is implemented mainly by practitioners of Yoga or by ascetics Sadhu [3] .

A similar practice exists in Jainism and it is called “Santhara” or sallekhana. In Buddhism Japanese brand had existed the ” Sokushinbutsu “, the Monaco because his own death in order to preserve itself through mummification .

In the West there was during the Middle Ages the practice of the Cathars called Endura , even here it was quite simply to let himself die of consumption in order to return to the supreme original good. But the religious judgment on the freedom to die can vary greatly, from a near-tolerance absolute denial of such a right and then a firm and radical condemnation of the suicidal gesture in the Catholic faith , for example, suicide is considered to be a grave sin [4 ] .

Ethical debate

There is a heated debate within the Bioethics on the possibility that the right to die in certain circumstances, is universal; applying only towards the end of serious diseases that have completely deprived any further possibility of use of the body (such as persistent vegetative state ).

The decision of a judge of the federal state of Montana has concluded that the right to die can only apply to those individuals who are in extreme medical conditions and with incurable diseases; the lawyer and activist for human rights in Switzerland Ludwig Minelli instead, as well as the expert of euthanasia Sean W. Asher and professor of bioethics Jacob J. Appel on the contrary claim that all people without distinction have the right to terminar its existence ( the latter has come to suggest that the right to die is a test for global freedom of a given society) [5] .

Legal definitions 

Most of the time the idea of the right to die is related to the desire of a person that he be allowed in cases of incurable diseases or whose recovery is highly unlikely if not impossible, no longer wanted the life support system doctor- pharmacological: reference may be made in this case the issues regarding physician-assisted suicide. It may be called passive euthanasia in cases where the patient is no longer able to make decisions about treatments to follow.

The request to establish a living will , and to not be revived by early treatment declaration are the legal instruments that make the patient able to decide ahead of time on the care to be taken or not on him; permission to die on the basis of such a decision would not be legally considered euthanasia. Usually patients who draw up a living will also make explicit desire to receive only those palliative care that reduce pain and suffering.

By country 

As of 2009 some forms of voluntary euthanasia are legal in Belgium [6] , Luxembourg [7] , the Netherlands [6] and Switzerland [6] , as well as in the federal states of Oregon [8] and Washington [9] .


Voluntary euthanasia was legalized in 2001. The Netherlands is one of the very few countries in the world to have done so. Under the current legislation euthanasia by doctors it is permitted only in those cases objectively hopeless and unbearable condition of suffering, which means that it is limited to those who suffer from serious health conditions and with significant mental and physical pain. While helping someone to commit suicide without meeting these requirements is a criminal offense