According to the general definition, euthanasia is the interruption of the life of a terminally ill person. Its purpose is to stop the patient’s torment with their consent or with the permission of loved ones. The medical definition of euthanasia states that it is the practice or method of performing specific actions by a doctor at a patient’s request (Euthanasia, n.d.). They aim to achieve a painless death to end the physical and mental suffering of an incurable individual.
From the point of view of bioethics, several semantic meanings of this concept are distinguished. Primarily, it is the acceleration of the death of those experiencing severe suffering and caring for the dying and giving a person the opportunity to die (Euthanasia, n.d.). Currently, euthanasia in bioethics refers to the killing of a seriously and terminally ill person, carried out at their will or the will of their authorized relatives.
Pain and Suffering within the Context of Faith
Suffering, pain, and illness in the context of faith are all a consequence of sin. A man who has withdrawn from God, having transgressed His commandments, has brought the consequences of sin upon all creation (Cioffi, 2019). At the same time, suffering is given an excellent cleansing and educational power because it awakens the human spirit. It tempers a person’s grit, courage, self-control, and strength of character.
Physician Assisted Suicide / Death (PAS / PAD)
Physician-assisted suicide or death (PAS / PAD) is the satisfaction of the patient’s request for euthanasia and the killing of the patient to end his suffering. This is possible if the doctor determines that the patient’s death wish is free and well-considered and is not caused
by the disease (Euthanasia, n.d). He further establishes that other treatment options have
indeed been exhausted.
Physician Assisted Suicide from the Point of View of Ethics
Currently, the scientific community does not give an unambiguous answer regarding the commission of physician-assisted suicide or death. The problem of euthanasia is based on such a principle of ethics as abstaining from harming. The subject of ethical discussion is the most significant harm to the patient: the termination of life, bearing physical and mental suffering, or its continuation.
The Right to End Lives
The Church is against euthanasia and claims we have no right to end our lives. People who advocate the legalization of it are considered irreligious and committing a grave sin against God, who is the source of life. The separation of the soul from the body and the birth of a person belongs only to God.
Better Alternatives to PAS
In modern medicine, there are several better alternatives to PAS, one of which is hospice where people receive palliative care. Various foundations arrange concerts of professional performers and different master classes for incurable patients. A hospice is not much like an ordinary hospital; this place becomes like a house where people live.
Palliative Care and Terminal Sedation
Palliative care is another alternative to PAS; the purpose of it is to combat severe symptoms. In some cases, palliative care alone improves the patient’s quality of life. Terminal sedation can also be considered as an alternative to euthanasia. This is a controlled administration of sedatives to reduce the patient’s consciousness to tolerable refractory and unbearable symptoms.
The standard features of all these alternative methods of alleviating the patient’s suffering are not to bring death closer, unlike euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. The primary purpose of all these methods is to facilitate the physical and emotional state of the patient. The use of all these methods partially relieves patients from unbearable physical suffering and psychosocial problems.
The difference in applying the three alternative methods listed above is the degree of gradation of purity of consciousness. With terminal sedation, the patient sleeps most of the time but wakes up to the arrival of relatives. With palliative sedation, the patient is conscious most of the time by maintaining the minimum level of necessary sedation. At the same time, hospice care may involve the variable use of these methods.
Brief Summary of Hemlock Society
The Hemlock Society is a suicide defense organization; its members believe that suicide is reasonable in some cases, especially for the terminally ill and the elderly, and should be legalized. The name comes from a legend according to which Socrates was executed by taking poison made from hemlock.
Brief Summary of Jacob Kevorkian
Jack Kevorkian, also known as Dr. Death, is a popularizer of euthanasia; he managed to take the lives of 130 people with the help of the device he created. Patients activated it independently; in addition, Dr. Death provided its patients with the opportunity to mix drugs for the procedure themselves (Euthanasia, n.d.). He was not the only propagandist of euthanasia but made a significant contribution to its local legalization.
Brief Summary of Britanny Maynard
At the end of 2014, the story of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, who suffered from an incurable and inoperable brain tumor and chose euthanasia, was the headliner of most significant media. People named her a crusader for her massive contribution to the struggle for the right of terminal patients to “die with dignity” (Ethical and religious directives, 2018). This magazine included her among the 25 most intriguing people of the year by placing a portrait on its cover.
Summarizing ERD Paragraphs
Paragraphs 59, 60, 61 state that the Catholic faith does not support euthanasia, but positively treats such alternatives to PAS as palliative care and terminal sedation.
Cioffi, A. (2019). BIO 603 EUTH PAS 3 30 19 [Video file].
Ethical and religious directives (ERD) for catholic health care services (6th ed.). (2018). Euthanasia. (n.d.) Web.