Euthanasia


RELIGION AND SOCIETY – UNIT 2 – ETHICS
LEARNING OUTCOME 2
ASSESSMENT TASK – VALUES IN ETHICAL ARGUMENT

Euthanasia is the deliberate killing of a person for the benefit of that person. In most cases, euthanasia is carried out because the person who dies asks for it, but there are cases of euthanasia where a person can\'t make such a request. A person who undergoes euthanasia is usually terminally ill, but there are other situations in which some people want euthanasia. There are two concepts that are relevant to the discussion of euthanasia. First, voluntary euthanasia, which refers to mercy killing that takes place with the clear and voluntary approval of the patient, either verbally or in a written document such as a living will. Second, nonvoluntary euthanasia, which refers to the mercy killing of a patient who is unconscious, comatose, or otherwise unable to openly make his intentions known. In these cases it is often family members who make the request.
The ethical issue involved with euthanasia, or mercy killing, concerns whether it is morally acceptable for one to end the life of another; this other being terminally ill and in intense pain. The euthanasia controversy is part of a larger ethical issue concerning the right to die. Staunch defenders of personal liberty argue that all of us are morally entitled to end our lives when we see fit.
Euthanasia rises agonising moral and ethical questions such as; is it ever right for another person to end the life of a terminally ill patient who is in severe pain or enduring other suffering? If euthanasia is sometimes right, under what circumstances is it right? And is there any moral difference between killing someone and letting them die?
Apart from any ethical issues involved in the matter of euthanasia, there are religious beliefs and morals to be considered as well. Islam opposes euthanasia. The Qur\'an and Sunnah, the authoritative sources of Islamic law, do not speak specifically about euthanasia. However, according to the Qur\'an, God is the Creator of life. Consequently, people do not own their lives and have no right to end them or to ask others to do so. "None of you should wish to die because harm befalls him. If he is so determined, let him pray: Oh God, let me live as long as life is good for me, and let me die if death is good for me\'". – The Prophet Muhammad. Islam’s stance is very clear on this issue and divides euthanasia into two categories; active euthanasia and passive euthanasia.
As far as Religion goes, Roman Catholics haven’t been accepting of Euthanasia either. The Roman Catholic Church regards euthanasia as morally wrong. It has always taught the absolute and unchanging value of the commandment "You shall not kill". Euthanasia is mentioned in the Bible on two occasions and both are in the Old Testament. In both these examples, the idea that euthanasia is an acceptable practice has not been implied. As far as Christianity is concerned, most seem to teach euthanasia as being wrong. The Roman Catholic Church does not agree with the practice of euthanasia. As with abortion, Roman Catholics follow the principle of Natural Law. This means they believe all life is regulated and ordered by God so that the way things are is way God intends them to be. So as far as the Roman Catholic Church is concerned euthanasia goes against God\'s will because people are meant to die through natural means. So to go against this (i.e. purposely ending someone\'s life), is to go against God\'s will, and thus to sin. The value of life doesn\'t depend on the extent that it brings pleasure and well-being. This suggests that suffering and pain do not stop life being valuable, and are not a reason for ending life. Because the Catholic Church believes that each life is valuable, they believe that each person should enter the dying process with all its mysteries with trust in God and should die with the dignity of letting them be loved unconditionally.
Similarly to the Islamic Tradition, the Roman Catholic Church does not accept that human beings have a right to die. Human beings are free, but their freedom does not extend to the ending of