In some countries - such as Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan - support for active euthanasia is almost non-existent.
Like other terms borrowed from history, "euthanasia" has had different meanings depending on usage.
Non-voluntary euthanasia is conducted when the consent of the patient is unavailable.
Examples include child euthanasia, which is illegal worldwide but decriminalised under certain specific circumstances in the Netherlands under the Groningen Protocol.
In some cases, such as the administration of increasingly necessary, but toxic doses of painkillers, there is a debate whether or not to regard the practice as active or passive.
Euthanasia was practiced in Ancient Greece and Rome: for example, hemlock was employed as a means of hastening death on the island of Kea, a technique also employed in Marseilles.In response, Wreen argued that euthanasia has to be voluntary, and that "involuntary euthanasia is, as such, a great wrong".Other commentators incorporate consent more directly into their definitions.Euthanasia, in the sense of the deliberate hastening of a person's death, was supported by Socrates, Plato and Seneca the Elder in the ancient world, although Hippocrates appears to have spoken against the practice, writing "I will not prescribe a deadly drug to please someone, nor give advice that may cause his death" (noting there is some debate in the literature about whether or not this was intended to encompass euthanasia).The term euthanasia in the earlier sense of supporting someone as they died, was used for the first time by Francis Bacon.that the death of a human being, A, is an instance of euthanasia if and only if (1) A's death is intended by at least one other human being, B, where B is either the cause of death or a causally relevant feature of the event resulting in death (whether by action or by omission); (2) there is either sufficient current evidence for B to believe that A is acutely suffering or irreversibly comatose, or there is sufficient current evidence related to A's present condition such that one or more known causal laws supports B's belief that A will be in a condition of acute suffering or irreversible comatoseness; (3) (a) B's primary reason for intending A's death is cessation of A's (actual or predicted future) suffering or irreversible comatoseness, where B does not intend A's death for a different primary reason, though there may be other relevant reasons, and (b) there is sufficient current evidence for either A or B that causal means to A's death will not produce any more suffering than would be produced for A if B were not to intervene; (4) the causal means to the event of A's death are chosen by A or B to be as painless as possible, unless either A or B has an overriding reason for a more painful causal means, where the reason for choosing the latter causal means does not conflict with the evidence in 3b; (5) A is a nonfetal organism.Person A committed an act of euthanasia if and only if (1) A killed B or let her die; (2) A intended to kill B; (3) the intention specified in (2) was at least partial cause of the action specified in (1); (4) the causal journey from the intention specified in (2) to the action specified in (1) is more or less in accordance with A's plan of action; (5) A's killing of B is a voluntary action; (6) the motive for the action specified in (1), the motive standing behind the intention specified in (2), is the good of the person killed.The first apparent usage of the term "euthanasia" belongs to the historian Suetonius, who described how the Emperor Augustus, "dying quickly and without suffering in the arms of his wife, Livia, experienced the 'euthanasia' he had wished for." The word "euthanasia" was first used in a medical context by Francis Bacon in the 17th century, to refer to an easy, painless, happy death, during which it was a "physician's responsibility to alleviate the 'physical sufferings' of the body." Bacon referred to an "outward euthanasia"—the term "outward" he used to distinguish from a spiritual concept—the euthanasia "which regards the preparation of the soul." However, it is argued that this approach fails to properly define euthanasia, as it leaves open a number of possible actions which would meet the requirements of the definition, but would not be seen as euthanasia.In particular, these include situations where a person kills another, painlessly, but for no reason beyond that of personal gain; or accidental deaths that are quick and painless, but not intentional.Voluntary euthanasia is conducted with the consent of the patient.Active voluntary euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.