The general position of the law on euthanasia worldwide is that all states recognise their duty to preserve life. Courts in various jurisdictions have refused to interpret the ‘right to life’ or the ‘right to dignity’ to also include the ‘right to die’. Instead, they have held that the state has a duty to protect life. Three categories can however be noted. At one extreme are those countries that have totally criminalised any appearance of euthanasia. In the middle are countries that prohibit what appears to be active euthanasia while at the same time tolerating ‘dual-effect’ treatment and withdrawal of artificial feeding. At the other extreme are countries that allow euthanasia. Even in this last category of countries, there are stringent guidelines embedded in the law to prevent a situation of ‘free for all’. Anecdotal evidence, some empirical studies and case law seem to suggest that euthanasia goes on in many countries irrespective of the law. Euthanasia is a criminal offence in Kenya. However, there have been no empirical studies to ascertain whether euthanasia goes on in spite of the law. This article surveys the current state of the practice of euthanasia globally and narrows down to elaborate on the state of affairs in Kenya.
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