Circle of Prayer - Euthanasia
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The Oxford Modern English Dictionary describes the word euthansia as "....the bringing about of a gentle and easy death in the case of incurable and painful disease." This controversial subject is discussed briefly looking at the area of euthanasia and assisted suicides. My interest in the subject is rooted in my work with the terminally ill through Hospice care. This topic is hotly debated the world over and the outcome of that debate will profoundly affect family relationships, interaction between doctors and patients, and concepts of basic ethical behavior.

We need first to distinguish the difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide. If a third party performs the last act that intentionally causes a patientís death, euthanasia has occurred. For example, giving a patient a lethal injection or putting a plastic bag over the person's head to suffocate them would be considered euthanasia.

On the other hand, if the person who dies performs the last act, assisted suicide has taken place. Thus it would be assisted suicide if a person swallows an overdose of drugs that has been provided by a doctor for the purpose of causing death. It would also be assisted suicide if a patient pushes a switch to trigger a fatal injection after the doctor has inserted an intravenous needle into the patientís vein.

The International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide has an excellent page of Questions and Answers on this topic. This is a world-wide issue and one that Satan is using to further his aims of death and destruction. Human Life has great value and is not to be taken by a third hand. Fearing that the ethical standards of medicine might be slipping, the British Medical Association issued a awake-up call in 1997 by making a committment to the centuries-old tradition of the Hippocratic Oath: all medical graduates are again expected to swear adherence to it. Somewhere along the line the oath became passe; currently only half of British medical schools offer any form of oath-taking at graduation.

Our faith as Christians informs and guides us in approaching personal and public decisions about death and dying today. Among the convictions that orient us are:

  • life is a gift from God, to be received with thanksgiving
  • the integrity of the life processes which God has created should be respected; both birth and death are part of these life processes
  • both living and dying should occur within a caring a community
  • a Christian perspective mandates respect for each person; such respect includes giving due recognition to each person's carefully considered preferences regarding treatment decisions
  • truthfulness and faithfulness in our relations with others are essential to the texture of human life
  • hope and meaning in life are possible even in times of suffering and adversity; a truth powerfully proclaimed resurrection faith of the church.
"Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's" (Rom 14:8). For those who live with this confidence, neither life nor death are absolute. We treasure God's gift of life; we also prepare ourselves for a time when we may let go of our lives, entrusting our future to the crucified and risen Christ who is "Lord of both the dead and the living" (Rom 14:9).

Advocates of euthanasia, as well as of assisted suicide, have sought to justify the taking of human life on moral grounds by describing it as a truly compassionate act aimed at the relief of human suffering. In light of what the Scriptures say about the kind of care God wills that we provide to those who suffer and are facing death, such claims should be rejected as neither compassionate nor caring. As Christians our aim should always be to care, never to kill.

Pope John Paul II has stated that laws being passed allowing euthanasia and assisted suicides are "...a seed of corruption in society and its foundations. Civil and moral conscience cannot accept this false inevitability, just as it cannot accept the idea that wars or inter-ethnic extermination are inevitable." Referring to "...a world which shows serious symptoms of violence and decadence," the Pope said it was increasingly clear that policies and laws "...opposed to life are leading society to degeneration, not only moral but also demographic and economic."  During his address on life issues in 2000 he appealed to scientists, doctors, teachers, families, lawyers, legislators and those working in social services to protect the right to life.

We need to stand back and look at some of the motives for seeking either euthanasia or assisted suicide:

  • financial contraints on the carers
  • personal fear of death and inability to be near the dying
  • sinister motives based on greed
  • pain
  • fears of being useless
  • feeling of being a burden
  • depresion on the part of the patient
We need to:
  • Examine the cost of medical care - NOT KILL THE PATIENT
  • Look to alleviate our own fears of death and dying - NOT KILL THE PATIENT
  • Look into our own hearts and examine our true motives - NOT KILL THE PATIENT
  • Provide good Hospice Care with scientifically titrated doses of pain killers - NOT KILL THE PATIENT
  • Encourage and love the patient - NOT KILL THE PATIENT
  • Treat the depression - NOT KILL THE PATIENT
The debate will continue and it will never be an easy one but we need to affirm the repect for life from its very beginning to its natural end, be aware of legislation coming about which aims to destroy life, be pro-active not complacent, have as loud a lobying voice as those who have no respect for life and wish to see their own agenda pushed through the legislature, be wide awake to the wiles of Satan as he leads more and more down the wrong pathway. Here in Europe we, as members of the EU, are being governed by those who advocate such 'civil rights'. The EU is fast becoming known as 'the culture of death'! Through prayer for our leaders, our governments, our legislature, our doctors and our carers we can help alleviate some of the attrocities occuring on life and death issues. Human Life is precious, is sacred and is God-given, how dare we try to snuff it out with all sorts of 'compassionate and caring' arguments. Human life is of INFINITE VALUE, and this remains true no matter how small, weak, incommunicative, disabled, diseased, or "unproductive" (in the eyes of a materialistic, consumerist society like ours) it may be.

Moytura has several other sites with a 'Christian flavour'. Prayerful Thoughts & Thoughtful Prayers is a little collection of prayers and thought-provoking stories, and a few links to some other really nice websites. Reflections for Lent offers a daily meditation for the 40 days of lent and the week leading into Easter. As part of my Journey section of the website join me to learn a little of the Early Christian Church in Ireland by visiting Clonmacnoise, founded by St. Ciaran on the banks of the River Shannon in the 6th. Century. Read about Saint Brendan the Navigator who started a Monastic settlement in the tiny village of Clonfert in the 6th century, located on the Galway/Offaly/Tipperary border. Travel on my journeys to two of Canada's most famous Catholic Shrines - Saint Anne de Beaupré and Cap de la Madeleine, both on the shores of the Saint Lawrence river in Quebec. Finally I welcome you to come with me to see a little of Medugorje, a peaceful haven in a war-torn country - Bosnia-Herzogovina. Please also pay a visit to  Moytura's Irish Bookshop where you can find books on the history of Christianity in IrelandIrish Prayers and Celtic Christianity

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