Physician Assisted Suicide Debate

My Philosophy Class of Death and Dying has recently began discussing the topic of physician assisted suicide. The majority of the students, and I suspect my professor as well, support the legalization of physician assisted suicide nationwide. I know the Catholic Church’s stance on this issue, I just need to figure out how to argue it among a mass of others who think differently.

Ah, the art of rhetoric…

I think the best way to do this would be to argue that you don’t believe it is moral of one to take one’s own life or decide when life ends, since that is up to God. But I suppose that would also depend on if they all actually believe in God.

Are you writing a paper on this or just trying to persuade people?

I simply feel the need to voice my opinion and perhaps plant a few seeds. Whenever someone uses the words “abortion” and "choice"in the same sentence I immediately put on my apologetics hat. With this topic, however, I’m just not sure how to properly make my case. And yes, I’m betting most of the students are agnostic or atheist, judging by their relativistic views they have held in previous class discussions; bringing God into the equation right at the get-go would make it difficult for me to find some common ground with them.

Just mention how things tend to go from optional to compulsory. Sadly, the world has already seen this trend with euthanasia :frowning:

Well, do you have thoughts on this topic that go beyond church teaching? I guess a better way to ask this would be, are there other, maybe non-spiritual reasons you think it’s wrong? Might be better to come at them with that angle if they are all agnostic or atheist. :shrug:

Speak to the sanctity of life and that we do not have the right according to our Christian Faith to decide when that life ends. As soon as we do this we are opening the door wider and wider to more and more reasons to kill others or ourselves.

As one who has worked with the dying I can say that this is a profound experience. And when it comes to Hospice care people need to understand that they are not trying to prematurely end a person’s life. There are certain signs that the end of life is inevitable and all the Hospice providers are doing is making sure the person is not in unneeded pain. We are allowed to provide comfort and to ease pain. We are not allowed to intentionally end a life.

Our journey back to God and our salvation is not up to us, and by ending our life early or allowing others to do so we may be risking our salvation. For those that believe this should be sufficient argument against such a practice. For those that don’t nothing will help. It is a contradiction of reason for the one who believes in God and salvation to believe that assisted suicide is OK. You either believe in God and His salvation or you don’t.

I have witnessed people talking to God while dying, becoming aware of things they could not know during this process and witnessed the peace that comes to them when they do pass. Perhaps one of the things that people have lost touch with, and need to reconnect with is watching others die. They may find reason to turn from thinking assisted suicide is a good idea. Hard to explain in such a short space…but those dying via the natural course of things do often talk about God in ways they never did prior to this last step in their life.

I thought this brought up some interesting points:

So, your looking for a non-religious argument against physician assisted suicide?

First one I can think of is a question. Do you want your physician to be a man or woman of their word? Each doctor takes the Hippocratic Oath which includes this: “If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.” Agreeing that someone else’s life isn’t worth living sounds like playing God to me. It is interesting to note that this part of the Hippocratic oath is located immediately after the part about doctor/patient confidentiality.

That any help?

Brrrrrr! I am probably going to die within the year, and I really hope Hospice can help me deal with my pain, as cancer will tear my insides up and, while I try not to think of it too often, I will have to plan. My doctor says that when she thinks it will be 6 months before I die,I should get hospice in. Not there yet.

I really kind of hated Pope John Paul II when he was so against the death sentence and euthanasia. I mean, some people SHOULD be hanged. Euthanasia is like, if a person is screaming and goaning in pain, why not. I believe in God, and I don’t think he wants a person to die in abject agony.

IF hospice can alleviate that, so be it. That’s what I’m going to try. But I still feel sometimes a person may really need a needle, if nothing else works.:frowning:

Hospice and will help. When your doctor realizes that you are at the point you need them they come to your house and explain everything. They focus on your comfort and pain control. I have been there for three relatives and assisted in their care during this time.

I know this is a difficult time and you have my prayers. I will pray that you are at peace with God and will know the comfort of his presence.

It is important to remember that God did die in agony. For your life. And His attitude of not my will but Yours be done" is one that should give you comfort and strength. Our God is different from all other gods. He alone knows exactly what it feels like to die. And he knows about Redemptive Suffering.

God be with you my friend. And know that many of us faithful on earth pray for the souls in purgatory and obtain indulgences for them.

Many people who survive a suicide attempt have stated later on how unimaginably glad they are not to have succeeded in their attempt. Although the Catholic perspective has additional reasons to be against euthanasia (suffering bringing us closer to God, the possibility for a miracle to occur, etc) we have a good enough reason from a purely secular standpoint. The objective reality is that no one can ever have enough information at their disposal to confidently state they would not regret the the termination of their life. Someone suffering from an agonizing disease might feel justified in killing themselves. Would they feel the same if they were told a cure to that disease would be discovered the next day?

The other consequences of a permissible mentality with regards to this issue are predictable. Sufferers of rare diseases would be subtly encouraged to end their lives; that money would be better spent on treating more common conditions. Widespread euthanasia would encourage our already youth/health obsessed culture that shies away from any mention of death or suffering. The elderly and sick would be relegated further to the shadows. Eventually, those who stubbornly refuse to willingly put an end to their existence for the good of society would become an uncomfortable taboo. You might want to refrain from listing all these reasons, however. It’s a quick way to get labeled as “hyperbolic” and “overly dramatic”. Of course, we saw how that turned out in the 60s when the world dismissed the Church’s warnings of the effect readily available contraception would have on abortion and divorce. Make no mistake, as contraception is a declaration of war on the unborn, readily available euthanasia is a declaration of war on the aged.

Thank you Cricket and Hoosier Dad for your good wishes.

Let’s all pray for the souls in purgatory, as most of us are gonna be there some day.


So sorry you are going through this. My stepdad had a similar experience until the cancer took him. I know he’s in a better place though, and my mom reassures me that he wasn’t in pain.

This is off topic, but, how are you feeling about all this? That’s really overwhelming to have to deal with.

It is always wrong. It would be best to ask those who think differently to provide reasons why a healer, a doctor, should help someone kill themselves.


If I were a doctor and saw there was no hope, absolutely no hope, and the person was in agony, I’d want to let 'em go. Some of these accident victims…auugh…their best hope is death. I’m not talking about someone who is depressed.

Hmmm. Why not depression then? Depression can be unbearably painful. And is the cause of the majority of suicides in the world. Why discount what so many have deemed to be worthy of death?

I say this because you need to think about the threshold of which one devalues a human life. Just for accident victims? And all accident victims? Or just those who choose death? While others may choose life? And what if they cannot communicate their choices?

How can we as Christians have the example of the suffering of Jesus and the Cross and then be instructed to take up our cross and follow Him, and then reject it as too much? How can we disobey God? How can we pray “Thy Will be done” every day and yet not mean it when it counts?

It all seems so arbitrary if you ask me.

It’s complicated. It’s like if I was walking down a battlefield and had a gun, and some half-a-person was begging to be shot, I’d do it. ]

I can’t make up a rule saying when to do it. It’s just the sort of thing you know when to do and when not to do when you’re faced with a specific case. And yeah, you might make the wrong decision. But sometimes you can be pretty darned sure.

I’ve never been in a war. It’s just sometimes euthanasia can be right. I just can’t say it’s always wrong.

didn’t mean to discount depression. It hurts like hell, especially if it’s untreated. People will kill themselves if they feel they have no more control over their lives or their pain. And I can’t blame them. I’ve ALMOST been there. Never tried, because my methods of suicide would have been pretty successful. But the agony of living–I’m sorry if I have discredited so many of my fellow sufferers. Because life is very painful, and sometimes we ARE given more than we can handle. Fate slings it out without thought or care.:slapfight::blackeye::crutches:


I just think it opens up a lot of doors. What if the doctor was wrong?

What about insurance? What if they say, we will cover you to commit suicide but will not cover 8 months of pain tolerance expenses. They are pretty much coercing you to kill yourself.

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