The “Right” to Kill?


What is the dictionary definition of euthanasia?

The word “euthanasia” used in a medical context refers to an easy, painless, happy death, during which it was a “physician’s responsibility to alleviate the ‘physical sufferings’ of the body.”

The ethical problem with this definition, from a non-religious point of view, is found in the word “happy”.

– Who guarantees that the person will be happier dead than alive?

– Even the patient cannot know what lies on the other side of death. He or she can’t choose a “happiness” that is not guaranteed.  It is unethical for one to desire that which conflicts with natural law.  Nature has a time and a means for each of us to die.  In choosing euthanasia we’re assuming greater authority over life and death than nature.  If humans can have greater authority over life and death than nature, how do we explain that human beings can reproduce naturally or with medical assistance, but cannot create life out of nothing?

– Reproduction technology such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) replicates nature. Therefore, the laws that govern life are built into nature, not man or his technology.

 

How many forms of euthanasia are there?

We can identify 3 types of euthanasia.

  1. voluntary euthanasia (euthanasia performed with the patient’s consent).

We cannot govern when and how we are conceived; how can we determine when and how we are to die?  Man is naturally oriented toward the greater good.  If he or she chooses euthanasia, it’s because he or she has become convinced that death is a greater good than life.  But why?

Mental health professionals will tell us that a person who commits suicide is unstable.  Is the person who allows another to kill him, emotionally stable?  What is the difference, between me holding the gun to my head and me handing to another person a lethal injection and passively allowing him to inject a deadly chemical into my blood stream?

People who are advanced in years, or very ill, may desire death. Usually, they don’t desire to be killed.  There’s a big difference between yearning for the end of suffering and paying a medical professional to end his suffering by killing him.  The emotional stability of those who give a medical professional the authority to kill them can, and should, be questioned.  Is this not abdicating one’s right to experience the human condition?  Is this truly choosing to end pain or feelings of neglect, or is it taking the quick way out, so a not to deal with pain or old age, especially if the senior feels abandoned by his loved ones?

If the older person feels that life is not worth living, there has be a process that led him or her to this conclusion.  What is that process?  Is this valid reasoning?  There are many false conclusions derived from false premises.  These constitute invalid reasoning.

Photo (C) Christian Marta-nez Kempin

  1. Non-voluntary euthanasia (where the patient is unable to give their informed consent, for example child euthanasia).

A child with Down Syndrome or other intellectual disability may be unable to think about abstract situations.  Are we helping the child understand the difference between life and death? Or are we choosing to terminate our responsibility and care for the child?  If the case is that loved ones can’t stand to see a child “suffer”, euthanasia is a service to others, not to the victim.

  1. Involuntary euthanasia (which performed on a patient against their will).

Is it ever justified to take the life of a person with disabilities who is enjoying his life in a way that’s different from the typical person?

Is it ever justified to decide that grandma has given all there is to the family, the community and to society, therefore we can forcefully take her life?  Where is the justice in this?

In many countries people wear seatbelts, even when they are passengers.  Why?  To increase the probability of staying alive in the event of an accident.  Why can a passenger in a car determine his end, but grandma cannot do the same?  If she were riding to the clinic where she’s going to be euthanized, the family would likely insist that she wear a seatbelt!

From “The Omen” (2006)

“From a strict medical ethics perspective, international guidelines following the Hippocratic Oath and the World Medical Association Declaration of Geneva still consider euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide as a morally forbidden practice” (Journal of Clinical Research and Bioethics).

The Hippocratic Oath still exists.  The value of the oath was right in the past, why is it not right in the present?  If that’s the case, let’s question every value that has been handed down to us and allow the next generation to question what we hand down to it.  The continuity of humanity would be in grave danger.  Has the Declaration of Geneva, by the World Medical Association, been rescinded?

“The physician must … have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm.” Hippocrates

Now that we have looked at euthanasia using non-religious (secular) rules, let us move into Christian rules that are binding to all who profess the Faith.

  • Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 2324: Intentional euthanasia, whatever its forms or motives, is murder. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator.

Euthanasia is contrary to the dignity of the human person, because it reduces the victim to an object, no longer a person.   It is contrary to the respect due to God, our Creator, because we are interfering and sabotaging God’s plan for the individual and the world.  The absence and presence of a single person changes the entire chessboard.

  • (CCC) 2277: Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.
  • Thus, an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator.
  • The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.

Our intentions may feel right. What we feel or think is right does not change the gravity of taking a life.  If one changes his opinion, can he bring that person back?

The very fact that we cannot restore life to the person that we killed should tell us that we have no moral authority over life and death.

It is often believed that euthanasia, in whatever form, will bring the greatest balance to happiness over unhappiness. To believe that man can bring the greatest balance is crossing the fine line between submitting to God and taking His authority into our hands – as if we could deliver such happiness.