Was this euthanasia?

My father passed away last year from a virus. The doctor told my family that there was nothing more they could do, and when they turned off the machines keeping him alive (he was in a medically induced coma), he would pass away within minutes. My understanding is that euthanasia is the administration of agents that result in someone’s death, but what about turning off machines? My father’s body was not responding to any treatment they tried at that point, and like I said, we were told that there was nothing more they could do.

Was this euthanasia?

I obviously didn’t want this to happen, and I certainly didn’t want anything to result in his death.

If you could say a prayer for him, by the way, I would appreciate it.

As I understand it, this would not be euthanasia.


Thank goodness!

First, I’m sorry for your loss. While I haven’t lost a parent yet, I can only imagine that it isn’t easy. May God grant you peace and may your father be with God in Heaven. Amen.

In general, it’s not euthanasia if the machines are literally keeping the person alive. AKA their organs are not working properly and they die of organ failure without the machine.

However, turning off a feeding tube is euthanasia. If our bodies work but we simply cannot feed ourselves, we cannot be denied the feeding tube. A feeding tube simply provides us food and water. When the tube is removed, the person slowly dies of starvation & malnourishment.

In regards to your father, this does not sound like euthanasia. The fact that he died within minutes means that his organs were not working properly. So I think you can rest assured re this. Note: I’m assuming that he was still receiving nourishment and that the Drs didn’t pull his feeding tube, causing his organs to shut down.

May your father rest in peace with our Creator in Heaven. Amen.

I’m not sure if he had a feeding tube. He wasn’t in the coma long. He had a tube down his throat, but I think it was helping him breathe.

Thank you for your help and comforting words.

I don’t believe the Church considers this euthanasia since the situation consisted of extraordinary means of keeping your father alive rather than inducing death by the administration of medical treatment. IOW, it was passive deprivation rather than active euthanasia, and an extraordinary means of maintaining life may be removed.

My condolences on your father’s passing, and prayers for your father and your family.

So, knowing that the person will die in minutes, being totally dependant on machines, the medical facility has to keep the feeding tube connected?

Here is the relevant passage from the Catechism, from the section on euthanasia:

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.

This sounds a lot like the decision you and your family made on behalf of your father. Not euthanasia, but the acceptance that it was beyond our power to heal him.

Let us pray for your father:
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
And let perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
and that the Lord comfort you and your family.

The Church does not require you to stay on a machine that prolongs your life; this was not euthanasia. My father had a DNR, and when he had a third heart attack in the hospital, the doctors did not try to save him, this is also allowed by the Church.

Thank you so much for clarifying. I’m sorry to hear about your father’s passing. I didn’t want anything to happen to my father that would have resulted in his death, and I wanted to make sure that nothing happened that would have run counter to the Church’s teachings, especially since he tried his best to follow them.

It was not.

I’m very sorry for your loss.

I am sorry for your loss.

This was definitely not euthanasia.

Also, CAF is not a good place to get specific help on what decisions are, and are not, acceptable for people entrusted with end of life care for another.

People who need help with this sort of thing should talk to their doctors and to their own priest, or a priest assigned to the hospital.

Everybody dies. Most of us will, and all of us should have someone with a medical POA to make decisions for us. Some people are incapable of that responsibility which CAF proves in spades. Some those decisions can involve things like taking someone off a ventilator when they cannot survive, or the administration of palliative care to prevent death in agony or suffocation (writhing and gasping for breath while awaiting death.) There are people here who would let a loved one die in agony when death is certain, or prolong life when death is certain, against the loved one’s specific wishes, to avoid taking the slightest chance that anyone on CAF could call them a sinner.

It is kind of like sitting in the emergency exit row on an airplane. Some people are not fit for this duty and should not sit there.

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