Euthanasia & Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS)

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Euthanasia is a multifaceted issue that cannot be viewed unequivocally. On the one hand, one can always agree that people themselves have the right to dispose of their own lives, but there are several issues to consider. Until medicine has found a miraculous cure for all diseases, which relieves suffering, the issue will not lose its relevance. However, the nurse needs to be competent to provide information on alternatives to euthanasia, while respecting patients’ self-determination and express unbiased support for their preferences and values ​​at the end of life.


Euthanasia is understood as the deliberate ending of the life of a person suffering from an incurable disease. It is one of the most discussed problems in modern bioethics. The act is connected with a complex moral problem: how health workers should relate to situations when medical care in the usual sense will no longer be beneficial. From the point of view of bioethics, voluntary euthanasia involves the killing of the human being or the former moral subject who consented, while the non-voluntary form does not. The basic principles of biomedical ethics used in current discussions about euthanasia are the principle of respect for individual autonomy and the principle of “do no harm.”

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Pain and Suffering within a Context of Faith

Representatives of the Catholic Church believe that the problem of euthanasia is a complex phenomenon, which is impossible to consider from one side. This is evidenced by the “Declaration on Euthanasia,” which came out in 1980 and made it possible to alleviate the suffering of seriously ill people, even if, as a result, it could lead to death. On the other hand, they can associate the dying person’s suffering with the pain that Jesus Christ felt during the crucifixion, and therefore wholly reject the use of euthanasia. Some truths of Catholics boil down to the fact that suffering and death are “the birth pangs of the new creation.” (The Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2018, p. 6) Faith diminishes pain and fear but gives confidence and grace to endure suffering rather than suppress it.

Physician Assisted Suicide / Death (PAS / PAD)

Euthanasia, as the act of deliberately killing a patient, even at the request of the patient himself, is not ethical. However, the question is how to determine if people should have the right to end their lives. In favor of the fact people should have the right to end the life, the possibility of realizing a person’s desire to dispose of his own life at the legislative and ethical level is noted. On the other hand, medicine knows hundreds of cases when a seemingly doomed patient suddenly got up on his feet after a severe form of cancer. With euthanasia, all this is excluded; this argument can be used against a person’s natural right to end his life.

Alternatives to PAS

The purpose of euthanasia alternatives is to relieve pain and suffering but not to bring death closer. In hospices, in addition to medical care, nursing, symptom control, everything included in the concept of palliative medicine, psychological support is provided here to patients and their relatives (Cioffi, 2019). Palliative sedation is the controlled administration of sedatives to reduce the patient’s consciousness to the level of tolerance of refractory and unbearable symptoms. Hospice can be considered the most preferable because spiritual support and care play a leading role here, ensuring patient comfort for the remaining time. The advantage is the ability to provide assistance at home in contrast to palliative sedation.

Case Studies

The Hemlock Society, which defended the right of people to die and supported its legislation, associates the experiences of people with euthanasia with the following precedents. In the case of Jacob Kevorkian, who invented a device that injects a lethal solution into a patient’s body, many hopelessly ill people ended their lives with it, causing public outrage in the United States. His actions did not correspond to the Hippocratic Oath when he determined the lethality of the disease in patients without the consultation of medical specialists. It is also vital to highlight the case of Britanny Maynard, who suffered from an incurable form of cancer, who voluntarily passed away, using her right to die, advocating the legalization of euthanasia (Cioffi, 2021). The above stories reflect the issue’s relevance for individual cases, emphasizing that each person should have the right to a dignified death.

Summary of ERD Paragraphs

A judgment made consciously by an adult patient regarding procedures must be respected and always carried out if it does not contradict Catholic moral teaching. Catholic medical institutions cannot tolerate euthanasia; dying patients must resort to alternative methods to live with dignity until they die naturally. The dying person may be given medications as needed, which can relieve pain and affect the person’s consciousness (The Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2018). If suffering cannot be alleviated, the dying person should be helped to understand the Christian understanding of redemptive suffering.


The problem of euthanasia goes beyond the scope of purely medical issues since it confronts moral, socio-economic, philosophical, legal, and political aspects. In its most general form, the main contradiction lies in the discrepancy between the declared humane goal of euthanasia and the inhuman means of achieving it. Even though for some countries or states, legalization of the act is acceptable, and for some, it is not, the medical personnel in their actions and attitudes to what is happening should be unchanged. Respect, support, and impartiality should remain the basic principles that guide the nurse in providing assistance and care.

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Cioffi, A. (2019). BIO 603 EUTH PAS 3 30 19 [Video]. YouTube. Web.

Cioffi, A. (2021). PHI 3633 WK 8 [PDF document]. Web.

The Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). (2018). Ethical and Religious Directives (ERD) for Catholic Health Care Services (6th ed.). United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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NursingBird. (2022, October 24). Euthanasia & Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS). Retrieved from


NursingBird. (2022, October 24). Euthanasia & Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS).

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"Euthanasia & Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS)." NursingBird, 24 Oct. 2022,


NursingBird. (2022) 'Euthanasia & Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS)'. 24 October.


NursingBird. 2022. "Euthanasia & Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS)." October 24, 2022.

1. NursingBird. "Euthanasia & Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS)." October 24, 2022.


NursingBird. "Euthanasia & Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS)." October 24, 2022.