If you go to the Catholic Answers Radio Program Archive, I know they’ve had some guests speak about this issue. Try looking around the time of the Terry Schiavo murder, or look under euthanasia. John Paul II made a few statements about this issue to the Catholic Medical Association, and there is a Catholic Bioethics Institute (or Center) somewhere.
My Catholic understanding of the issue goes something like this: Say if you have a terminal cancer, but you could extend your life through multiple operations for a few years. My understanding is that you could refuse the treatment and pass on. However, essential non-medical care, like food and water, must be given to a patient under all circumstances. Terry Sciavo was severely disabled, but she did not have any disease that was going to kill her. All she needed was food and water, basic essentials, to live. Her husband said she made some statement that she wanted life support pulled if she ended up in this situation. But this supposed statement was not confirmed by another witness, and he could have been making it up. That is, it was hearsay evidence which is not allowed in U.S. courts. Nevertheless, the courts, both Florida state and Federal ordered her to be killed, although she committed no crime against society except for being disabled.
This is a big topic; you probably could write a Ph.D. dissertation on it, but if I were you I might go to the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which says that no state can deny its citizens’ life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the United States. Life is the ultimate good, because without life we do not exist. You can argue that the one of the fundamental duties of the state is to protect the lives of its citizens, as enshrined in the 14th Amendment. A civilized society should protect inalienable and fundamental rights like life, which is singled out in the 14th Amendment and the Declaration of Independence as being a right. For most of America’s history it has protected life, except for the last 35 years or so.
A civilized society should always protect the weak and the lives of its citizens. That’s why euthanasia and abortion are wrong.
Now, there are two counter arguments to the pro-life side, which will go like this: Oh, but a lot of people are in tremendous pain, and it costs a lot of money to keep these people in the hospital or treated medically, isn’t it just better to kill them? I’ve never really seen the economic issue discussed in either Catholic or secular circles because it brings up a can of worms about the fiscal disparites in our societies. Also, without arguing religion, you’ll probably lose on the pain issue. If suffering isn’t considered redemptive, well, why suffer?
The best you can do is say that people recover from their injuries all the time, even if they are not expected to. Look at ABC news anchor Bob Woodruff. They were expecting him to have to be taken care of for the rest of his life, like an infant, but know he looks at least 80% better and is going to have a great life. This probably won’t convince most people, but that’s all you can do.
Then the money. Well, I would just say that we, as a society, should strive for something better than murdering the old, the infirmed, and the sick. It may take an expansion of Medicare or increasing taxes on stocks and bonds or corporate profits to fund a program to assist people with the costs of this type of care. There’s talk about increasing the amount of medical care to members of the Armed service. Well, what about assisting all Americans who find themselves in this terrible situation. Almost all Americans have helped the nation in some way, even simply by paying taxes and doing their day to day business. In Terry Schiavo’s case, she had the money to support herself from the money she got from a court case about the accident she was in. So, for her, it was no problem. Even so, the state and Federal courts went ahead and killed her. So, there’s something deeper than money that’s involved in this issue with its proponents.
America should always protect life. It is in our Declaration of Independence, and our Constitution, the fundamental documents of our nation. Killing other human beings or letting them kill themselves, like the weak, the sick and the unborn is barbaric and cruel, and the symptoms of a sick society obsessed with greed and utility. Let us stay true to our founding principles and protect human life in all its conditions.
I hope that helped.