Christian Perspectives on Assisted Dying: An Issue for Religious Ethics

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Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Global Views on Choosing to End Life, Michael J. Cholbi, Praeger, 2017, pp.121-144

Svenson, Arthur G., “Physician-Assisted Dying and the Law in the United States: A Perspective on Three Prospective Futures”,

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Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Global Views on Choosing to End Life, Michael J. Cholbi, Praeger, 2017, pp.3-28

What is euthanasia? Euthanasia is when a doctor can legally end the life of a patient in a painless matter if allowed by the patient and their family. Many people often confuse euthanasia with assisted suicide but there is a slight difference. Assisted suicide is when the patient requests the aid of the doctor to help commit suicide. There are various reasons patients request euthanasia and as to whether it should be legalized. I believe that it should be legalized because no one should have to endure pain if they are capable of making a rational decision regarding their death.

One reason the patient may prefer euthanasia is because they see it as a way to end their suffering. Let us say that a patient has stage four esophageal cancer, which means that the cancer has metastasized and the patient does not have a good prognosis. Keep in mind that the patient is going through chemotherapy, which causes loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, severe pain, and muscle atrophy. Would you rather see that patient suffer for the few weeks that they have left or would you grant the wish of the patient if they asked for euthanasia? Courtney Campbell, Professor in Religion and Culture at Oregon State University agrees with Daniel Callahan Ph.D., “Ought the general duty of the physician to relieve suffering encompasses the right to kill a patient if, in the judgement of the patient, that is desired and seems necessary?” (210) If the patient is in severe pain, is it the physician’s duty or obligation to treat them with a medication that might end their life? Even if it interferes with the Hippocratic Oath, which doctors recite stating “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.” (Nordqvist 3) Doctors are taught to preserve human life and help heal others. But the patient has the ultimate say and what the patient wants should be done.

Many people live with illnesses that come with excruciating pain and it makes life a bit more challenging depending on the illness. For example, my grandfather had cardiomegaly (an enlarged heart) and somedays his pain was tolerable and other days he would have intense chest pain and trouble breathing. He did not know about euthanasia because my family refused to even bring up that topic. At times, the pain killers that the doctors prescribed did little to no improvement and towards the end of his life his pain started to get worse and we could all see how much pain he was going through.

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