DEFINITION Euthanasia(origin: Greek; meaning "good death”)refers to the practice of ending a life in a manner which relieves pain and suffering.
According to the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics, the precise definition of euthanasia is "a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering."
Euthanasia is categorized in different ways, which include voluntary, non-voluntary, or involuntary and active or passive. “An action or omission which of itself and by intention causes death, with the purpose of eliminating suffering.” (EV 65)
TYPES OF EUTHANASIA VOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA is conducted with the consent of the patient is termed voluntary euthanasia. Ex: When the patient brings about his or her own death with the assistance of a physician, the term ”assisted suicide” is often used instead.
NONVOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA is conducted where the consent of the patient is unavailable. Ex: Child euthanasia is a controversial form of non- voluntary euthanasia that is applied to children who are gravely ill or suffer from significant birth defects.
INVOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA is conducted against the will of the patient is termed involuntary euthanasia.
Euthanasia is not legal here in the Philippines but some are using Euthanasia or mercy killing on terminally ill patients and most of them are poor. They have no other choice but to use Euthanasia to stop the patient from suffering from pain.
Only 2 out of 10 terminally ill patients survives because of proper medications. The remaining 8 out of 10 is sentenced to Euthanasia.
A survey in the United States of more than 10,000 physicians came to the result that approximately 16% of physicians would ever consider halting life- sustaining therapy because the family demands it, even if believed that it was premature. Approximately 55% would not, and for the remaining 29%, it would depend on circumstances.
This study also stated that approx. 46% of physicians agree that physician- assisted suicide should be allowed in some cases; 41% do not, and the remaining 14% think it depends.
In the most recent version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2003), all forms of suicide and euthanasia remain strictly prohibited, but questions of moral culpability and eternal salvation are left open. Paragraphs 2280-83 of Article 5 (On the Fifth Commandment) address suicide:2280: Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.2281: Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.
2282: If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law. Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.2283: We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.
Paragraphs 2276-79 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church address euthanasia and related issues.2276: Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible.2277: Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable. Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.
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; ones 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.
POPE JOHN PAUL II Even when not motivated by a selfish refusal to be burdened with the life of someone who is suffering, euthanasia must not be called “false mercy”, and indeed a disturbing ‘perversion’ of mercy. True compassion leads to sharing another’s pain: It does not kill the person whose suffering we cannot bear.
The assisted suicide/euthanasia debate is still in its infancy, with the ultimate outcome very much in doubt. Public opinion polls show solid majority support for limited legalization, but the polls also demonstrate that popular support drops significantly when specific details of legislative proposals are examined. One thing is clear: euthanasia/ assisted suicide controversy is likely to be a significant source of societal contention and political argument for many years to come.