Let’s begin by defining what euthanasia is. In more simple terms, it is an assisted suicide for those who are terminally ill or who have little time to live. The purpose behind this method of passing is that the person escapes the horrid conditions that they are living and is able to end pain and suffering. Although euthanasia is illegal in all 50 states of the U.S., physician aid in dying (PAD or more commonly referred to as assisted suicide), is legal in only four states. Those states are Oregon, Montana, Vermont and Washington.
So what is the difference you ask? It really comes down to who administers the deadly dose of medication. Euthanasia indicates that a third party or physician is providing the medication; whereby, in assisted suicide the patient is required to administer the medication and they alone will determine where and when they will do this. In the last couple of decades, the U.S. has seen many attempts to change or rectify this practice in either direction, and most probably it will continue to be a controversial topic.
So how does the Catholic Church feel about euthanasia? It’s very difficult for Catholics to see this method of dying as being acceptable because the implications are that death is caused by the hands of another person and that only God has the right to give and take life. Therefore, most Catholics find euthanasia as morally and ethically wrong. Having said this, this type of thinking is probably more in line with the majority of how the world feels on euthanasia.
In general, most Christian organizations are against this practice. The argument is made based on the belief that life is precious and given by God and that he is both the author and finisher of our faith; meaning he controls when we die and how long we get to live. When someone assists another person in death, they take the natural dying process out of God’s hands and take matters into their own as per Christian beliefs. Some Christians find that this is not only a moral issue, but is also disrespectful to the creator.
Christians believe that the body was created in God’s image and mankind doesn’t have the ability to judge a life as being over or not worth living. In other words, it is accepted that God knows every hair on a person’s head and that he alone will appoint the appropriate time to die for every human being. The Catholic Church takes a strong stance against euthanasia and considers it murder. Also, the state laws prevent this action from happening legally, and the Bible says that a Christian must obey the laws of the land. Breaking the law is sin and additionally euthanasia would be considered murder in the eyes of God.
There are people who base their agreement for euthanasia by considering the quality of life and believe that a person close to death’s door should be allowed to exit peacefully. These arguments are completely irrelevant to the church and are not considered valid. The Roman Catholic Church stands on the belief that the dying process should not be disrupted in any way. This process is spiritually important and the brief time before death is one of the most powerful times in a person’s life. This is the time when the spirit is moving toward God and away from its body; it is a sacred experience and one that each person must go through.
In addition, Christians trust that the fundamental self-worth and value of a human life is identical and that no person has more or less value. Value cannot be measured by a person’s mobility, intellect, or any accomplishments in their life.
Some say that those who find themselves in a vegetative state and are seriously damaged deserve this right to end their lives. The Catholic Church, however, takes a firm stance that though they may not be as they once were, they remain living and breathing persons and their spiritual being still has the same worth as anyone else.
The very core of Christianity is to respect human life. Though some may say that we need to respect the decisions of others and how they wish to die, it goes against God’s very plan for life and death as per the religious order. People often experience periods of illogical thinking when they are very sick or close to death. Rather than trying to end their life before their time, the Catholic Church believes that an individual needs to draw close to God and allow him to comfort and give them peace in the last hours of life.