The term euthanasia in the earlier sense of supporting someone as they died, was used for the first time by Francis Bacon . In his work, Euthanasia medica , he chose this ancient Greek word and, in doing so, distinguished between euthanasia interior , the preparation of the soul for death, and euthanasia exterior , which was intended to make the end of life easier and painless, in exceptional circumstances by shortening life. That the ancient meaning of an easy death came to the fore again in the early modern period can be seen from its definition in the 18th century Zedlers Universallexikon :
Inconsistency between illegality and prosecution - even though 92 Britons have gone overseas for an assisted suicide, no relatives have ever been prosecuted for assisting them - some were charged, to later find that the charges were dropped. This discrepancy between the law and legal action prompted Debbie Purdy to launch a case to clarify whether her husband would be risking prosecution if he helped her travel to a clinic in Switzerland to die. On 30th August, 2009 a decision was made that the Director of Public Prosecutions had to clarify what the enforcement of the Suicide Act 1961 entailed.