FAQs of euthanasia and assisted suicide
Written by Catholic Register Staff,
What is euthanasia?
An action or omission by one person to directly and intentionally kill a person who is gravely ill or suffering, usually by medical means. It is considered murder under the Canadian Criminal Code and subject to a maximum life sentence.
What is social euthanasia?
A situation in which a sick person feels lonely, abandoned or a burden and, in a state of depression, seeks euthanasia.
What is mercy killing?
A deliberate act to kill someone without their consent when they are too ill or disabled to speak for themselves but, presumably, would have chosen to die.
What is the church position on euthanasia, assisted suicide and mercy killing?
Catholic teaching is unequivocal: life is our greatest gift from God and Catholics are called to respect and sustain life from the moment of conception until natural death. Euthanasia, assisted suicide and mercy killing are never permissible.
What is death with dignity?
The church teaches that all human life is sacred and that people have a right to to decency and peace in their final days, facing a natural death with faith and courage and sustained by compassionate care, prayers and the sacraments. That is death with dignity.
What is palliative care?
The ministering of care, compassion and comfort to a person who is suffering or dying to ensure they are provided with every medical, physical, emotional and spiritual need.
Can medical treatment be refused?
Provided nothing is done to deliberately cause death, when there is little hope of recovery it is acceptable to discontinue medical treatments that are unduly burdensome or no longer effective even when refusing treatment can hasten a natural death.
When can medical treatment be discontinued?
Treatment should be sustained while there is a reasonable hope of benefit and for as long as it can be administered without excessive pain, expense or serious inconvenience.
Can all types of care be discontinued?
No. Medical treatment can be halted but it is not permissible to deny nutrition, water, warmth and hygiene to even the most gravely ill patient. No one should be killed by neglect.
Are large doses of painkillers permissible even if they may hasten death?
Yes, patients in great pain can receive medication that could have the secondary effect of hastening death provided the primary intent is pain relief and not end of life.
Isn’t that the same as euthanasia?
No. The difference is the intent. The primary intention of pain medication is to comfort a patient; the primary intention of euthanasia is to kill a patient.