– the deliberate ending of a person’s life in order to relieve suffering. In cases of Euthanasia, death is seen as a benefit to the person.
– any action or omission of what is normally necessary to sustain life that leads to the death of a person in order to relieve suffering
There are different types of euthanasia;
1) Active Euthanasia: action that will cause or accelerate death (e.g. a drug overdose, poisoning, etc)
2) Direct / positive: intentionally ending a person’s life by an act of commission.
3) Voluntary: performed on persons who give voluntary consent.
4) Non voluntary: performed on persons who are not capable of giving voluntary consent.
5) Involuntary: performed on persons who refuse to give voluntary consent.
6) Passive Euthanasia: to do nothing that will preserve life
Arguments for Euthanasia
- Principle of Autonomy (i.e. that a person has a right to decide for themselves). According to Fletcher, “Death control, like birth control, is a matter of human dignity. Without it persons become puppets.”
- Principle of Justice – Breach of Natural Justice – no one should suffer needlessly. People who have debilitating conditions are forced to travel to other countries to avail of the services – justice of accepting the values of others.
- Loss of Dignity – A patient maintaining control over their own life, including when to end it. Minimising suffering is a morally justified action.
- Quality of life – Biological life vs. Personal life (e.g. if you are in a vegetative state you are biologically alive, but are you personally alive?)
- Minimising Suffering
Arguments Against Euthanasia
- The intrinsic value of human life (i.e. Life is good)
- Autonomy gone wrong! (Yes it protects your right to choose what happens to you, but to be an autonomous being is to be a moral being.) “Autonomy is not absolute. We are not morally justified in doing something simply because we wish to do it.” Irish Bishop’s Committee on Bioethics; End of Life Care: Ethics and Pastoral Issues.
- New advancements in pain management and control
- The purpose of healthcare is to end suffering, not life.
- If Euthanasia is allowed, we are effectively saying “Some lives are not worth living.”
Catholic Church Teaching on Euthanasia
- Life has absolute value, we need to do everything we can to keep people alive
- Only a certain quality of life should be preserved.
- Human life is sacred, but there is an acceptance of death.