Euthanasia and the Catholic Church: an Ethical Conundrum

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Updated: Jun 20, 2023
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Imagine you are lying in a hospital bed with a terminal illness that is causing you so much pain and suffering. At this point, you just feel like ending it all, but you can’t because your country won’t allow your doctor to put you out of your misery. Well, with euthanasia, you can legally end your pain. I agree with legalizing euthanasia because after viewing the history of euthanasia and how it started, I’ve gotten a better understanding of it, and you will too.

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I also viewed euthanasia from the perspective of multiple religions and took their thoughts into consideration in deciding whether euthanasia is right or wrong. We will also see how I viewed euthanasia from autonomy, beneficence, and distributive perspectives. Those three topics will lead to my three body paragraphs explaining how and why I am for euthanasia. Many people suffer from incurable or painful diseases, and if they feel like their life has come to the point where they shouldn’t keep going well, why are we going to stop them? At the end of the day, it’s always going to be that person’s decision whether other people accept it or not.


Let’s start off with what euthanasia is. To me, euthanasia is like a way out for someone who is suffering. It’s like suicide but by a professional, and you’re not feeling any pain because of it. In exact words, euthanasia is the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma. I would like you to get a better understanding of what euthanasia is, so in the following, you will read about how it happened and its history. Also, since murder is prohibited in many religions, I researched how different religions felt about euthanasia, and what I learned about it was quite interesting. After all my research was conducted, I will say that I stand for euthanasia, and you will understand why after reading my point of view from autonomy, beneficence, and distributive perspectives.

History of Euthanasia

Euthanasia officially became a thing known in 1870 when Samuel Williams proposed that euthanasia be allowed in all cases of incurable diseases and painful illnesses. Through time the proposal was reprinted in magazines and books. The debate was brought up once again in 1906 after the Ohio legislature took up “An Act Concerning Administration of Drugs etc. to Mortally Injured and Diseases Persons,” which was a bill to legalize euthanasia, but the bill was rejected. Euthanasia was brought back up again in 1976 when it was legalized in California. After that, through the years, there have been multiple cases of euthanasia being used. Dr. Jack Kevorkian brought euthanasia back up in 1990 when he performed his first assisted suicide on Janet Adkins, who had Alzheimer’s. He also took part in about 130 other assisted deaths. After Kevorkian, Michigan banned assisted suicide along with 30 other states.

Another case involving euthanasia would be in 1997 when the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not guarantee the right to commit suicide with the help of a physician. Hawaii recently physician-assisted suicide on April 5th, 2018. It just allows physicians to give patients a life-ending drug to terminally ill people who have six months or less to live. After learning the history of euthanasia, I’d say I am still for it because it shows the people that were suffering, and because of it, they are no longer suffering. Euthanasia has been going on for quite some time now, and it still hasn’t been legalized worldwide, so maybe someone will make new history in the future by trying to legalize it as everyone in the past has. Honestly, I hope to one day be that person because euthanasia would be something that I’d want to get legalized to give people the freedom to decide what should happen in their life without anyone trying to stop them or interfering with their wishes. If I really wanted it, I would try to fight for it no matter how much more power others opposing euthanasia have than me.

Religious Perspectives

Religions opposed euthanasia for many reasons, some being that God has forbidden it, human life is sacred and special, and the sanctity of life, etc. Christians are mostly against euthanasia because they believe life is God-given, that God is the only person to decide whether someone lives or dies, and that people shouldn’t interfere with the natural process of death. Jews believe that a doctor must do everything he/she can to save a patient’s life even if the patient doesn’t want to, but if a patient is certain to die and is being kept alive by ventilators, then it is okay to switch off the ventilator. The Roman Catholic church strongly opposes euthanasia because they see I as breaking the commandment, “You shall not kill,” and they do not accept that humans have a right to die. In most places, euthanasia is considered murder because you are killing someone whether they wanted it or not, you are still killing someone, and since it’s morally wrong to commit suicide or murder, well, obviously, it’s going to be wrong to assist in it.

Bishop Anthony Fisher from the Roman Catholic Church does not stand with euthanasia because he believes that a person should not be allowed to make that decision on their own. He has said that euthanasia now will begin for a small group of people with a terminal illness but that later on, it will move on to the chronically ill, then perhaps a group with not a physical illness but a mental illness like depression and so on. If we’re speaking about euthanasia on behalf of religions, then we have to think about what the bible says about it. So in the bible, there are stories of one person taking the life of someone else, and it’s wrong because it’s murder, but there are also stories of murdering an enemy, and it’s not wrong. But there are no stories on euthanasia, but if it’s okay to kill an enemy, then why wouldn’t it be okay to kill someone who is suffering and is already going to die either way? With that being said, I would say I am still for euthanasia, and I don’t think my mind would ever change whether my religion believes in it or not. Everyone has their own opinions.

Autonomy, Beneficence, and Distributive Perspectives

When we speak of autonomy for the patient, we recognize that the patient has the right to make decisions and determinations for him or herself. When I think of euthanasia from an autonomy perspective, I realize that people do have the right to decide what they want. Viewing it from this perspective, I am for euthanasia because if I were to an, I knew I could end it with just a simple decision and a harmless injection, I would do it. Why should someone who has a terminal illness or incurable disease have to suffer in a hospital bed, be neglected food or treatment just so they can either go home and die or stay in that hospital bed and die there, leaving their adult children to pay for the hospital expenses? When instead of doing that, they can have someone professionally assist them in their suicide. If that is what the patient wants, then so be it. I believe the physician should fulfill their patient’s wishes and just do it for them and put them out of their misery. As Dr. Kevorkian’s lawyer, Geoffrey Fieger, said, “So if you’re unconscious, they have the right to turn off the feeding tube and let you die. But if you’re conscious, rational, and begging for assistance to be allowed to die, they refuse.

Now how is it possible that a mentally competent adult does not have the right to look a doctor in the eye and say, “I’ve had enough? I can’t endure any more pain anymore. Help me; I’ve had enough.” Do we really want the government making those decisions for us? No, it can’t be; it just can’t be.” I agree with this statement because it’s true. Why should the government or society decide whether a patient wants to live or not? If I were that patient, I would want to have the right to end my suffering without anyone judging me for it or anyone trying to get in my way. The concept of beneficence requires people to do what is in the best interest of others. Viewing euthanasia from this perspective allows me to see things from the physician’s view in this case, I will be using Dr. Jack Kevorkian as an example. I would still be for euthanasia because I understand why Kevorkian did what he did. He saw his patients filled with determination to end their own suffering, and he wanted to help them. As I saw in the documentaries, most of his patients had that look in their eyes as if to say, “Please do it, please go through with this and help me end my suffering.”

As if to say, “I am so tired of suffering. Please help.” And, of course, the doctor helped them because, in his eyes, he saw nothing wrong with it. He didn’t believe he was playing God. He just did what he thought was right. Yes, in my opinion, it is wrong to commit suicide according to my religion, but I also believe that if someone is suffering and has a chance to end it, they go for it and be happy in the afterlife. Dr. Kevorkian suffered as well to get his point across the state and country. Almost every time he assisted a patient in their suicide, he would be arrested, and he would stop eating to protest against the judge and the people. He once went more than ten days without eating to prove to the judge that if he died while being held in jail that the judge would be part of assisting him in his own suicide. The fact that he also assisted in the suicide of someone he cared about shows that this is what he really believed in, and he wouldn’t stop until it was legalized. Distributive justice is the principle by which we as a society (or the health care community) decide to allocate resources that are in scarce supply. Euthanasia, people were against it; after seeing the film “You Don’t Know Jack,” I saw how people would protest against it and thought that if someone practiced euthanasia, they would be playing God.


In conclusion, after viewing euthanasia from all these perspectives, I am still for it. Suppose I had the opportunity to bring euthanasia back to the table and take it up to officials to try and have it legalized. I would definitely participate in being that physician if I could because I wouldn’t be harming a patient. Instead, I would be helping them fulfill their wishes. Sometimes you just have to put yourself in the position of that patient and think to yourself if you would do it or not. Would you really end your life if you thought there was nothing left in it? You can also put yourself in the shoes of the physician and the people. How would you feel as the patient’s loved one? You have to take all these things into consideration before deciding whether or not you are for or against something.


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Euthanasia and the Catholic Church: An Ethical Conundrum. (2023, Jun 20). Retrieved from