Is is considered euthanasia if the person is dying?

Hi this is a touchy subject but i just wanted to know.

If a person is dying (in he hospital and are deteriorating fast) and you give tem morphine to numb the pain (purely to relieve them of the pain, not to induce death). Is it considered euthanasia if it puts the person into a coma and then they die?

Or is it only considered euthanasia if you wanted to give them morphine so that they would die?

I only ask because my parents had to make this decision with my nan who was in intense pain with a spreading viral infection and was dying so they decided to give her morphine to numb the pain but as a consequence it put her into a coma and then she died.

Is it morally acceptable to increase the painkillers not with the intention of killing the person but so they don’t suffer while they are in fact dying?

Yes, it’s morally acceptable.

That’s essentially what hospice does. It’s called palliative care. It is not considered euthanasia.

It is morally acceptable as long as one’s objective is not to kill and as long as certain death is not caused*.

*Hastening does not equate to causation.

From the Catechism:

2279 Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable. Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged.

(I added the bold emphasis)

This sounds like your situation exactly. According to this, the morphine treatment which your parents allowed was morally acceptable.

By the way, this is from the section on euthanasia, 2276-2279.

Without reading ANY posts I skipped right to the Post Reply button.

Regarding this headline:

Uh - oh !

Don’t be thinking THAT way. Inclined to “do it” I mean.

In a sense we are all “dying”. Some of US have been near death and got better.

Leave the “hour of (someone’s) death” to the Lord and not man.

Posting this now. Maybe more later once I’ve read a few posts. But without personalities or situations entering into it – my post is a take on Euthanasia. Even the “Justified by someone” kind - which would be all of them come to think of it. :hmmm:

No, it is not considered euthanasia if you ease the pain even knowing it will lead to death, with morphine it affect the respiration in a negative way, it is the last thing a doctor do to help his patient, letting the sick one die with dignity. When all is done, that is the last favor a doctor can do.

Intention is almost the whole thing with euthanasia. The headline doesn’t agree with this presentation and I’m relieved. Thought it was going to be about a real case or action that was being considered.

So NO! Not euthanasia unless intended (or secretly wished for). Making someone comfortable and easing their pain seams praiseworthy. Lapsing into the coma is what happened - but it could just happen without someone deliberately MAKING it happen (and especially making it happen for one’s own ease or benefit - like getting one’s share of a will quicker ! For example.)

When the doctors say “there’s no more we can do …” why not do what you can to make a loved one comfortable? Likewise, if one still was holding out hope for a recovery and this “making someone comfortable” tended to lessen the chances for recovery - making the call to forego such drugs in the hope that the struggle for life would be won by the patient and without the problems of withdrawal or addiction to the painkiller.

If you still think of Nana say a prayer for her. Today I read scripture for more than 1/2 hour “with the reverence due etc …” which merits a plenary indulgence that can be applied to another (with grace, but still sufffering purification or justice under God in Purgatiory).

Then have peace about it all. This sounds normal. And unless I am missing a key detail on the “intention” front via someone making decisions on Nana, this is not euthanasia. :slight_smile:

Yes it is morally acceptable to increase pain medication until someone’s pain is relieved.

It is very rare that a persons’ medication needs to be increased to comatose levels for them to be comfortable.

It is very common for patients or families towards the end of life to ask for medication to end the patients life.

The concern is, when we say “well, they have just a few hours left…” which becomes "they only have a few days left, let’s put them into a coma to keep them comfortable…(as in the UK), to “well, they’re not coming out of the coma…”

It is an area we do not want to get close to.

Thanks for your thread.

Yes, it is morally acceptable. The scenario is repeated hundreds of times daily across the United States in hospitals and at home under hospice care.

they decided to give her morphine to numb the pain but as a consequence it put her into a coma and then she died.

All drugs have a side effect and one of the side effects is slowed respiration, lowered oxygen content to the brain and a worsening of the condition. The decision was done with the INTENT to numb pain being aware of the side effects. This is called treatement rendered for a purpose other than intending to cause coma and death and the intent was to aid in suffering…so it is not considered Euthanasia…

The morphine didn’t kill your nan, the infection did. A coma is a normal part of the actively dying stage (I’ve had comatose actively dying patients who weren’t on any medication at all). Morphine can speed the process up a bit by lowering the blood pressure of an actively dying patient whose blood pressure is already dropping as a normal part of the process, though it doesn’t speed it up nearly as much as the old wives tales and social stigmas around morphine would lead you to believe. The Church is fine with this, and rightly so; denying a dying woman her pain meds so you can force a few more hours onto her lifespan would be monstrous.

I am going to disagree with your assessment…

Morphine is a respiratory depressant. A viral infection may cause the lungs to malfunction via an ARDS type mechanism however in the face of Morphine with a viral infection and compromised lungs…decreased oxygenation via the lungs caused the coma…now you can argue it was the Virus and the assumed ARDS or it was the Morphine that slowed breathing, hampered oxygenation aided in the increase of CO2 that is also narcotizing however…since we weren’t there and have no access to any of the clinical information…this and your assessment amount to nothing more than speculation.

So in other words, it is OK to let someone suffer from severe pain because we know what Morphine do? I hope you are not a doctor.

To ease the pain is often all we can, we are only humans, after all. It is better to let someone die with no pain and still with intact dignity, I know it is hard, but that is, as I did write earlier, if someone bothers to read what I write, is the last thing a doctor can do. And it is approved by The RCC so it can’t be wrong. If we don’t recognize and understand the teachings there is no way we can live. I do not want to offend you, and I did not check if you are a Catholic, but can you really walk away from a patient saying “sorry, I can’t do anything anymore, so suffer until the inevitable end because I need to go to Heaven”? Look, if something is forbidden and declared a sin, but you do it with all your heart because the intention is good I don’t think God will mind. He does not judge us by amount of prayers or how often we attend mass. No, He judge us by our deeds.

If something is forbidden and a sin, no, we should not do it even if we have good intentions. But it is not forbidden to provide pain meds to someone who is in pain, even if it hastens his death as a secondary effect. That is not a sin, as long as the intention is to relieve pain.

In large doses, yes. Much larger than the starting dose of morphine doctors use. As I said, it can speed things along a bit, but if you or I had taken the same dose OP’s nan took, we would have had some drowsiness, constipation, maybe a little confusion and possibly an allergic reaction, but certainly not a coma. Pretty much everyone goes through a period of nonresponsiveness as part of the actively dying process, and since per OP the woman was dying already, the coma was pretty much inevitable.

I’m familiar with your personality though, so I’m sure you’d love to bicker about this for weeks whilst pretending that you know what you’re talking about. I’ll just let you have the last word here and ignore you from here on out.

This is off topic, but lying is a sin, venial though, mostly, but if a lie save a life, it is not considered to be a sin. Am I right?

Lying is intrinsically evil and therefore can never be done. If one was in a situation where one had a legitimate reason to deceive, then one would be required to resort to other means (imperatives or questions that imply something false, statements that have multiple meanings).

In large doses, yes. Much larger than the starting dose of morphine doctors use.

I do not think you know what you are talking about. Morphine in any dose is a respiratory depressant.

As I said, it can speed things along a bit, but if you or I had taken the same dose OP’s nan took, we would have had some drowsiness, constipation, maybe a little confusion and possibly an allergic reaction, but certainly not a coma.

The OP says nothing about dose. The effect of Morphine is not only dependent on the dose it is dependent on the status of the patient.

21 year old man, healthy, ASA 1 given 2 mg IV Morphine

77 year old man, unhealthy ASA IV given 2 mg IV Morphine

The effect is different

If I can save a life by lying I lie. And if that is wrong, so be it.

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