Question about physician-assisted suicide scenario

What would the Church’s position be on a case of physician-assisted suicide where the person who’s suffering is hooked up to a life support machine, and if it weren’t for the machine, they would be dead? And either the person’s family or physician decides to pull the plug on them because, in their eyes, if it weren’t for the life support machine, that person would be dead anyways? Or if they did manage to live through it, since they’d be considered a vegetable, wouldn’t it still be wrong to kill that person? I feel like it would still be wrong, since they’re still a living human being, and we don’t have the right to take away the life of another human being since they’re made in God’s image, even if they’re not functioning normally. Am I right in this thinking? Is someone who’s only living because they’re on life support even considered “alive” since their own heart isn’t beating on its own? I know, several different questions, but I just would like some answers to them. Obviously, as a Catholic myself, I’m against physician-assisted suicide, but I’d like some answers to those sorts of specific scenarios that seem to be the main arguments proponents of euthanasia use.

The Church doesn’t teach that people in that state should be kept alive by a machine.

Your thinking is correct. However, that would not be called “physician-assisted suicide”.

They are permitted to die because there is no reason to keep them alive in that state.

Hopefully someone will add more to what I wrote.



One is not directly killing an innocent human being by turning off the machine in this scenario. The machine is turned off and nature takes its course one way or another and there is not (necessarily) a will that he should die.

Injection of a drug that kills him IS directly and willfully killing and thus morally abhorrent.
So is deliberately starving him.

Allowing someone to die and killing them are not the same thing.

The scenario you have presented is not a case of physician assisted suicide. It is the discontinuation of extraordinary means and allowing the natural course of events to occur.

You can read about such in the Catechism under the fifth commandment and the Church documents on euthanasia.

Physician assisted suicide is actually KILLING the person by some means such as lethal dosage of drugs.

I hope the following is helpful:


Catechism of the Catholic Church

2278 Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of “over-zealous” treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected.

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.

Leave considering vegetables to the greengrocers.

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