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Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. Overview. Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide is an ongoing issue around the world Fear that medical advancements no longer allow death to be a serene moment, instead prolonging death Excellent example of the effects of moral relativism. Definitions.

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  • Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide is an ongoing issue around the world

  • Fear that medical advancements no longer allow death to be a serene moment, instead prolonging death

  • Excellent example of the effects of moral relativism


  • Active Euthanasia: Deliberate killing of someone with the intention of ending all suffering

  • Passive Euthanasia: withholding or withdrawing life support, nutrition, or water without a person’s consent, with the specific intention of ending that person’s life

Definitions con t
Definitions Con’t

  • Assisted Suicide: providing a person with the means to end his/her life

  • Doctor-Assisted Death: physician-assisted suicide and active euthanasia performed by a physician

The church s stance
The Church’s Stance

  • Euthanasia and Doctor-Assisted Suicide is ALWAYS wrong

  • The good of the sanctity of human life, that life that God bestowed on us, can never be sacrificed for the sake of the good self-determination

  • Against the 6th Commandment, “Thou shall not kill”

Dignity of human life
Dignity of Human Life

  • Life is always good and may never be taken

  • “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.” CCC 2258

Misconception that leads to euthanasia
Misconception that Leads to Euthanasia

  • Judgment that life is not worth living

    • Arrogant view that has lead to lives being taken throughout history

      • Euthanasia and Suicide

      • Murder

      • Genocide

Declining extraordinary measures
Declining “extraordinary measures”

  • Euthanizing and forgoing extraordinary measures are two separate issues

  • Extraordinary measures: any measures that are disproportionate to the expected results OR measures that impose an excessive burden on the patient and family

Ordinary vs extraordinary
Ordinary vs. Extraordinary

  • Anything not primarily considered ordinary medical care

  • Consider these factors:

    • Degree of complexity

    • Amount of risk involved

    • Cost and accessibility

    • State of the sick person

    • His resources

  • Proper nourishment (food and water)

  • Ordinary medical care:

    • Offer reasonable hope of benefit

    • Are not unduly burdensome to the patient or family

Declining extraordinary measures con t
Declining Extraordinary Measures con’t

  • The person is placing himself in God’s hands and prepares to leave this life

  • Maintains ordinary means of health care

Imminent and inevitable death
Imminent and Inevitable Death

  • One can, in good conscience, “refuse forms of treatment that would only secure a precarious and burdensome prolongation of life, so long as the normal care due to the sick person in similar cases is not interrupted” (Evangelium Viate, n65)

Pain relievers
Pain Relievers

  • Pain relievers are a morally acceptable way of subduing suffering

    • Some choose not to take pain relievers

  • Pain relief is still acceptable even if it has the secondary, but not intended, effect of hastening the end of life


  • A person is dying of cancer which has metastasized throughout his body. The disease causes the man to go into a coma and he must be fed intravenously and use a respirator. His kidneys fail and it becomes clear that the situation is not reversible

  • Medical technology is not providing any hope of recovery or benefit at this point; it is prolonging death

  • The respirator has now become an extraordinary measure, so turning it off would be morally acceptable.

But isn t it better to end suffering
But isn’t it better to end suffering?

  • No one enjoys suffering, nor should anyone wish for someone to experience it

  • We must remember that we have been baptized into Christ’s passion, death and resurrection

    • We share in our Lord’s cross, and that may be very painful at times

    • We are united with Christ with our suffering

Suffering con t
Suffering con’t

  • It is VERY difficult to understand the purpose of suffering

  • But…by uniting our suffering with Christ’s, we expiate (atone—make amends) the hurt caused by our sins and help expiate the sins of others

  • Sometimes suffering will finally heal the wounds that have divided families

Death is not the end
Death is NOT the end

  • Faith in the resurrected Lord teaches us that while we live on earth, it is not our abiding home.

  • St. Francis of Assisi spoke of “Sister Death” as a friend who carries us from this life to the Father’s house.

  • We should not fear death

Some consequences of euthanasia and doctor assisted suicide
Some Consequences of Euthanasia and Doctor-Assisted Suicide

  • The vulnerable may be pressured to to seek an earlier death by third parties

    • Danger may increase as health resources decrease or become more expensive

Consequences con t
Consequences con’t

  • The role of the physician and trust in him would be undermined

  • Palliative care would be marginalized

Consequences con t1
Consequences con’t

  • How is suffering defined? What about the depressed, infirm, frail, etc.

Consequences con t2
Consequences con’t

  • Diminish respect for human life

  • Erode the basic trust that human life will be protected

    • Essential trust to have for the functioning of any society

The hippocratic oath 350 b c
The Hippocratic Oath (350 B.C.)

  • “…I will neither give a deadly drug to anyone if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect…”

  • “First, do no harm.”

Social and cultural factors affecting the debate in the 1990s
Social and Cultural Factors Affecting the Debate in the 1990s:

  • Secularism

  • Moral relativism

  • Radical personal autonomy

  • The growing AIDS epidemic

  • Families have fewer children

  • Emphasis on reducing the cost of healthcare

Is euthanasia assisted suicide legal anywhere
Is euthanasia/assisted-suicide legal anywhere? 1990s:

  • Netherlands (1984). In 1990, 9% of deaths were D.A.S. or euthanasia

  • Oregon: “Death with Dignity” Act (1997); Washington; Montana

  • Belgium: 2002

  • Switzerland: euth. not legalized, doctors aren’t punished for D.A.S.

  • Northern Territory of Australia: 2006

Won t they regulate it
Won’t they regulate it? 1990s:

  • “Regulations” are in place, but a ‘slippery slope’ occurs

    • Records are difficult to maintain and can be altered or not maintained

    • People argue that “suffering” is a relative term

    • When a person is unconscious, others are responsible for his/her decision

Resources 1990




  • “Going to the House of the Father”. Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops. April 2007

  • COLF pamphlet entitled: Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Urgent Questions!