The generic definition of euthanasia states that it is an omission or an action that, by intension or itself, causes death alleviating suffer. Its bioethical meaning says that it is a deliberate action taken to assist in ending or end the individual’s life on a compassionate basis. Catholic health care vision rejects to participate or condone in assisted suicide or euthanasia. If dying patients insist on euthanasia, they should be provided with spiritual and psychological support, love and care, and the appropriate remedies for living with dignity until their natural time of death. In the context of faith, suffering and pain is “participation in the redemptive power of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection” (“Ethical and religious,” 2018). This belief is not able to relieve patients from fear and pain. Nevertheless, it helps to avoid being overwhelmed by suffering and gives grace and confidence for bearing it.
Ethical Aspect of PAS
The official position of Catholic Churches is precise: the killing of any individual is the violation of divine laws and the offense of a human’s dignity. Hence, it may never be justified by the omission act eliminating suffering. PAS and PAD are often considered euthanasia, which is confusion. When a patient estimates him- or herself as a burden for a family, “31 percent of white mainline Protestants, 40 percent of white Catholics, 24 percent of white evangelical Protestants and 21 percent of black Protestants say a patient has a moral right to suicide” (Dallas, 2016). Nevertheless, the Church supposes that freedom to kill is a tyranny reducing an individual in slavery. Scripture strictly excludes the practice and theory of PAS and PAD. In fact, Catholics might have diverse opinions regarding wars and the death penalty, but abortions, euthanasia, and PAD are never under discussion. The PAS practice is viewed as false compassion devaluing and dehumanizing the sick by the Church.
Should We Have the Right to End Our Lives?
The only truth is that life is God’s precious gift. Therefore, the question of human life’s stewardship has many profound consequences. Human beings are not their lives owners; hence, they have zero power over them. On the contrary, people are obliged to preserve their lives, using them for God’s glory. Although euthanasia and suicide are morally unacceptable options, some excessively burdensome or insufficiently beneficial life-prolonging procedures may be rejected. The vast majority of religious leaders state that terminally sick patients need support in the form of accompanying through fear and pain but not being provided with the chance to choose death. Moreover, religion assumes suffering to be a valuable lesson for both survivors and patients.
Alternatives to PAS
PAS’s best alternative is keeping the patients as free of suffering as possible and giving them an opportunity of dying comfortably in the place they choose to die. It is acceptable to provide such patients with the medication suppressing or alleviating pain even if such therapy is likely to shorten their lives. Palliative care or hospice should be chosen instead of PAS. Palliative care treats symptoms like nausea, sleep problem, and pain. Hospice is a kind of palliative care focused on people having no more than six months of life ahead. Although these two kinds of care are alike, there are some differences. Palliative care helps the patients to feel better emotionally, spiritually, and physically along with further doctors efforts to treat the current illness. In turn, hospice care also helps feeling better, but no treatment trying to cure the disease is provided. Another difference is the place where the treatment happens. Hospice care mostly done at the patient’s home or hospice facilities, whereas palliative on might happen wherever he or she is being treated for illness (doctor’s office, hospital, patent’s home, and nursing home).
The goal of the Hemlock Society is obtaining dignity and choice at the end of one’s life. Its members aim to change the law through legislative and political means. The Hemlock Society made multi-pronged efforts to provide personal and legal support and information with the help of the Caring Friends program and different publications and chapters describing all end-of-life options. Educational and PR efforts are made in the whole state through the Society’s chapter programs and speakers.
In 1990, J. Kevorkian helped Hemlock member and Alzheimer’s patient J. Adkins to die utilizing Mercitron. The three trials resulted in acquittals, but Kevorkian proceeded practicing PAS, initially using barbiturates. After he lost the license, Kevorkian developed a patient-assisted mechanism allowing the use of carbon monoxide. In 1998, he was accused of second-degree murder and sentenced to 10-25 years, but in 2007 Kevorkian was eligible for parole and served two years on it (Charatan, 1999). In turn, Maynard had an incurable brain tumor and moved to Oregon for medical aid in dying. She chose Compassion and Choices as a partner of publicizing and promoting her story (“As planned,” 2014). In November 2014, Britanny went through with her initial plan at her home.
A competent adult patient has the right to informed and free judgment regarding the withdrawal or use of life-sustaining procedures unless his or her decisions are contrary to Catholic teaching. The patients asking for euthanasia should be provided with medication reducing pain and suffering to the possible minimum. It is their right to die in comfortable conditions and freely chosen place. If a patient is suffering without the perspective of alleviation, he or she should be helped to realize the redemptive suffering’s Christian understanding.
As planned, right-to-die advocate Brittany Maynard ends her life. (2014). NPR. Web.
Charatan, F. (1999). Dr. Kevorkian found guilty of second degree murder. BMJ, 318(7189), 962. Web.
Dallas, K. (2016). How religion changes the medically assisted suicide debate. Desert News. Web.
Ethical and religious directives for catholic health care services (6th ed). (2018). United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.