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THE CHURCH, EUTHANASIA and ASSISTED SUICIDE
Euthanasia also known as “mercy killing” and assisted suicide are worldwide controversial issues. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the word euthanasia comes from Greek, meaning easy death (eu: easy, thanatos: death). Euthanasia means to end the life of a person who is terminally ill or suffering from severe pain, in a deliberate way. At the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) webpage, in the section Ethics guides, under the title of Forms of Euthanasia, Religions and Death? (2009), different types of euthanasia are described, such as indirect, active, passive, voluntary, involuntary and non voluntary. On the other hand, assisted suicide is usually performed with the help of a health professional; that is why; it is usually called Physician Assisted Suicide (or PAS). The main controversy is over the different opinions on whether it is the sick patient’s decision or if it is a legal, ethical or religious issue to be considered by a third party. In order to practice assisted suicide in a country where it is legal, many factors should be present, such as the moral and religious beliefs of the patient and the physician or the patient’s family and the physician, as well as the legislation of the country where it is going to be carried out. At present, in countries where euthanasia is not legalized yet, it is very difficult to obtain legal permission to practice it. As regards the ethical field, it is the physician’s responsibility to respect and to be loyal to the Hippocratic Oath, which they swore to respect the moral principles of their medical profession. Most of the times, these principles overlap with euthanasia’s practices, as physicians are faced with a dilemma on whether to respect the patient’s
Israel. do no harm'(…) The oath is now out of date (…) It is therefore wrong slavishly to revere . Some of those organizations are listed in the article Organizations for euthanasia (2009). Germany. especially amongst doctors. such as Australia. Laws and Regulations. Euthanasia. In the legal field. Daniel Sokol mentions the controversial issue on the Hippocratic Oath. the only way doctors could 'do no harm' would be by declining to treat all patients. many organizations. promote assisted suicide as well as euthanasia. New Hampshire is currently considering a bill on assisted suicide. Even simple medical procedures. in his online article The ethics of assisted suicide (2006). Belgium. “Another common argument about PAS. Switzerland. Japan. active euthanasia. In the social field. such as: Dignitas. These . it is legal or being considered to be legalized in some other countries such as Albania. while Switzerland does not punish doctors who perform euthanasia. which of course are not members of the Roman Catholic religion. Russia. is only legal in: the Netherlands and Belgium. Washington and Montana in the United States.Calderón. On the other hand. according to the article Law and Legal Issues. such as taking a blood sample or injecting a local anaesthetic.the Hippocratic Oath. María Eugenia decisions or to abide by the principles of medical ethics. in what countries is euthanasia legal? (2009). However. commonly referred simply as euthanasia. If taken literally. Colombia. Netherlands and in the states of Oregon.as some still do . Luxembourg. Many procedures and treatments require doctors to inflict harm in order to bring about some good. which support life prolongation. Canada. Italy. assisted suicide is penalized in most parts of the world. Spain and United Kingdom. is that it violates the Hippocratic dictum: 'first. ERGO and The Death with Dignity National Center (DDNC). India. entail some risks to the patient.
The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps (TASH)1 and Suicide Prevention International (SPI). On the other hand. there are many aspects that can be analyzed and discussed within this topic as opinions about euthanasia and PAS varies from country to country as well as from individual to individual. Religions play a very important role in ethics and people’s decision-making. María Eugenia pro-euthanasia groups state that it is an act of mercy and that the patient has the right to decide on his/her own life or death. dominate people’s minds and actions.html) 3 . So. I will focus my research paper on whether religions. which is the world’s dominant religion. My paper will be divided in two main sections. euthanasia and PAS are not considered acts of mercy but mortal sins. the acronym was maintained because it was widely recognized but the full name of the organization is no longer used as it didn't reflect current values and directions.org/WWA/WWA_what_acronym. there are other groups which strictly oppose euthanasia and/or assisted suicide. I am going to deal with legal and ethical aspects. The first section will lay out a brief theoretical and legal framework of euthanasia and assisted suicide. more specifically religious aspects. continued to be used. It seems that strong religion beliefs obstruct law making and reformation when it comes to euthanasia and assisted suicide. However. TASH. claiming that these practices are illegally and immorally viewed as “suicide” or “murder”. Such groups supporting the right to live are listed in the article Organizations against euthanasia (2009): Citizens United Resisting Euthanasia (CURE).Calderón. As I mentioned above. especially the 1 The name was changed to The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps in 1983 but the acronym. (http://www. especially regarding to the ending or prolonging of human life. The second section will consist of an analysis of different religious perspectives. For Roman Catholicism.tash. in this case Roman Catholic faith.
many States of The United States allow "living wills. state of Washington legalized assisted suicide. a kind of a mixture of voluntary. In order to offer a wider panorama of ideas and thoughts about the topic different classifications I will take into account different author´s perspectives. in 2008. In England. Belgium and the Netherlands permit voluntary euthanasia. Belgium. articles and papers. and two years later Belgium legalized it too. Only four European countries today openly and legally authorize assisted dying of terminal patients at their request. In 2008 the U. as well as The Church’s points of view against these practices being legal. To develop my research paper. In Mexico. it is important to mention that since the twentieth century.S. the Mexican Senate voted in favor of legalizing passive euthanasia allowing doctors to withdraw life-sustaining medication from patients but not administering poisons. These are just a few current legal issues around the world taken from the British Broadcasting Corporation on line .e. To conduct my research." surrogate health care decision making. In the legal field. Wales as well as in Canada. but Switzerland bans death by injection. these are Switzerland. I will consult material about both ethical and religious issues. and Luxembourg. although suicide itself is not a crime. and the withdrawal or refusal of life sustaining medical treatment. assisted suicide continues to be penalized and there is a possibility of imprisonment for anybody assisting suicide.Calderón. then The Netherlands followed the example in 2000. I will gather and consult some books.i. The Netherlands. María Eugenia Roman Catholic considerations on euthanasia and assisted suicide. however. most of them taken from the Internet. The state of Oregon legalized assisted suicide in 1998. passive and active euthanasia.
if we take this into account. pp. why is it immoral nowadays to practiced euthanasia or PAS? Why does the Church now value the sanctity of human life and why The Church did not do it in the past? It is necessary to make a distinction among the different types of euthanasia.”2 it is the disconnection of medical life-support equipment without which you cannot live.Calderón. In his book Final Exit (2002).1. María Eugenia article Tread carefully when you help to die. I found very interesting the fact that the Church. So. which most people refer as voluntary euthanasia (…) assisted suicide is when you get lethal drugs from somebody else. 2) 2 In this case. Referring to the historical framework. 5 . and swallow them to cause your death. usually a physician. The Church‘s actions were unquestioned. what is more. At that time. moral and legal. Active euthanasia occurs when death is brought about by a physician’s injection of lethal drugs. death is brought about by omission. in times when many countries adopted Christianity. Being the ecclesiastical members the only ones who were educated and consequently the ones who taught people what they considered was right. people’s opinion on whether what the Church did was not considered. For Humpry (2002). the Church dominated almost every aspect of civil and political life. Assisted suicide laws around the world (2005). “Self-deliverance” means taking your own life to escape the suffering. openly practiced executions. by withdrawing or withholding treatment in order to let the person die. (1. People were executed for wrong doing or for not agreeing with the Church’s principles. Derek Humphry states that the option or the right to choose to die comes in four ways: Passive euthanasia: popularly known as “pulling the plug.
" The church states that “nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being. Religious views on euthanasia. According to the on line article Ethic guides. However. Religious people often refer to the sanctity of life. oppose and/or forbid euthanasia and assisted suicide. some Hindus say that by helping to end a painful life a person is performing a good deed and so fulfilling their moral obligations. whether a fetus or an embryo. Most Buddhists are against involuntary euthanasia and the teachings of the Buddha do not explicitly deal with it. nowadays. so only God has the right to take it away. It has always taught the absolute and unchanging value of the commandment "You shall not kill. retrieved from the British Broadcasting Corporation web page. (2009). most religious groups. an . Most Hindus would say that a doctor should not accept a patient's request for euthanasia since this will cause the soul and body to be separated at an unnatural time. Other Hindus believe that euthanasia cannot be allowed because it breaches the teaching of “ahimsa” (doing no harm). María Eugenia In the religious field. Muslims are against euthanasia. Religious views on euthanasia (2009). They state that God gives people life. Religion and euthanasia. Some churches also emphasize the importance of not interfering with the natural process of death. they believe that all human life is sacred because it is given by Allah.Calderón. In the article Ethic Guides. Religion and euthanasia. The result will damage the karma of both doctor and patient. mentions the opinion of the Roman Catholic Church and states the following: The Roman Catholic Church regards euthanasia as morally wrong. and that Allah chooses how long each person will live. Being the Roman Catholic Church the most active organization opposing euthanasia. or say that human life is sacred.
María Eugenia infant or an adult. here the Pope voices his opinion. states that “we do not possess a ‘right to die. “knows that suffering is not meaningless. among others. Pavone. It cannot be taken away by another or by the person him/herself. but rather an inviolable right. The third passage of the encyclical deals with euthanasia.” according to Pavone. the Pope John Paul II expresses the Catholic Church’s point of view regarding the value and inviolability of human life and addresses different issues.” “A Christian. since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person. or a person who is dying.” (¶ 3) In the Encyclical in the Evangelium Vitae3 (1995). an old person. It was by his suffering and cross that Christ redeemed the world. euthanasia. Friar Frank A. “any act or omission which causes.The "right to life" is based on the fact that life is a gift which we do not possess as a piece of property (which we can purchase or sell or give away or destroy at will). The "right to die" is based…on the idea of life as a "thing we possess" and may be discarded when it no longer meets our satisfaction”… He strongly opposes euthanasia stating that. “.’” A right is a moral claim. euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God. or is intended to cause death.Calderón. or one suffering from an incurable disease. International Director from the organization Priests for Life... in his online article Freedom to die? (2009). is transmitted by the Church's Tradition and taught by the ordinary and 3 Latin: The Gospel of Life 7 .. in order to remove a person from suffering is no permitted and shall never be... This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written word of God.
So. I want to believe that God would prefer what is best for us.e. but not as the creator of the world. were also part of His creation. I cannot consider the idea of a God that allows His people to suffer either physically or emotionally. Pope John Paul´s point of view is cited: “Pope John Paul II has spoken out against what he calls a 'culture of death' in modern society.61).Calderón. I think God wants our betterment. and have also a peaceful and dignifying kind of death. Roman Catholic view (2009). improve and lead the best kind of life we can. My argument against Roman Catholics is the following. pp. Religion and euthanasia. He wants us to change. if God was the creator of the world and we. If there is a God.(5. First of all I am not a follower of the Roman Catholic Church and not of any other religious group. María Eugenia universal Magisterium…” In the article Ethic Guides. then I suppose everything we think or do belongs to God. I strongly disagree with the Roman Catholic Church. The church regards any law permitting euthanasia as an intrinsically unjust law”. as human beings. in the end. As Robert Young states in his book Medically assisted death (2007). In this way. having good and bad thoughts and intentions. who are they to impose punishment on others? Is it God’s will to punish us for actions and thoughts that are part of our nature as human beings? I do not think so. i. the Church was created and is managed by people who are just like us. and said that human beings should always prefer the way of life to the way of death. I believe in God as a superior self who guides us in the path of our lives. . “those opposed to the legislation of medically assisted death often contend that its legislation would violate the requirement to respect the sanctity of human life and that this constitutes a decisive reason against legislation”. we should not be condemned by the Roman Catholic Church for our thoughts or actions. Religious views on euthanasia.
María Eugenia I consider that as long as the Church continues to uphold strong principles on life sanctity. the issue of whether to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide will remain improbable as well as controversial. and people continue to believe in them.Calderón. REFERENCES 9 .
uk/ethics/euthanasia/overview/forms. Abstract retrieved November 20. 1995. from the British Broadcasting Corporation [BBC].bbc. Evangelium Vitae.uk/ethics/euthanasia/religion/religion.shtml Ethic Guides. http://news. 3. 2009.vatican. Final exit. 2009. María Eugenia Daniel Sokol. Religion and euthanasia.co. Health section. from http://www. No author http://www.uk/2/hi/health/4759499. II.co.bbc.HTM .co.bbc. "It is I who bring both death and life" (Dt 32:39): the tragedy of euthanasia (chap. Religion and euthanasia. 2009. 2002. The practices of self-deliverance and assisted suicide for the dying. Forms of euthanasia.co. Ioannes Paulus PP.Calderón. § 65. Abstract retrieved May 11. United States: Dell Publishing. Abstract retrieved July 2. D.shtml Ethic Guides. Roman Catholic view. ¶ 7). No author http://www. No author http://www.shtml#h2 Humphry. from the British Broadcasting Corporation [BBC]. Abstract retrieved November 20.va/edocs/ENG0141/__PR. 2009. Religious views on euthanasia. from BBC News. Abstract retrieved November 20.uk/religion/religions/christianity/christianethics/euthan asia_1. Religious views on euthanasia. You shall not kill. New York.stm Ethic Guides. from the British Broadcasting Corporation [BBC]. The ethics of assisted suicide. 2006.bbc.
World-right-to-die newsletter (#41. 11 .assistedsuicide. from Priests for life organization. 2009.euthanasia. United States: Cambridge University.Calderón. from euthanasia.answers.html Religions and death.html Pavone F. 2005). 2009. in what countries is euthanasia legal?. from webpage of the Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization [ERGO]. Abstract retrieved June 27. Freedom to die? Abstract retrieved July 2.uk/ethics/euthanasia/religion/religion. No author http://www. Wiki Answers. (n.shtml Tread carefully when you help to die. 2009.com No author http://www.).). Abstract retrieved July 2. laws and regulations. In D. from the British Broadcasting Corporation [BBC].euthanasia.html Organizations for euthanasia.org/suicide_laws. Assisted suicide laws around the world.com/Q/In_what_countries_is_euthanasia_legal Organizations against euthanasia.html Young. http://www. Abstract retrieved November 20. Abstract retrieved June 27. María Eugenia Law and legal issues. R. No author.priestsforlife. No author http://wiki.com/page10. 2007.d. Humprey (Ed.com/page10. 2009. (March 01.com No author http://www. New York. from Answers Corporation.co.org/euthrefl. Medically assisted death. Abstract retrieved July 2. 2009. 2009. http://www.bbc. June 2002). from euthanasia.
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