Filipino Nurses: Is the right to life the right to end life (euthanasia)?

I came across an article in the blog Filipino Nurses, entitled “Right to End Life (Euthanasia).

The first argument is that for animals in serious injury or illness that couldn’t be cured, the and “humanely” thing to do is to “put them to sleep.”  So, the argument goes, the same should also be true for humans.

There is no such thing as animal rights co-equal with human rights because animal rights are what humans bestow on animals.  Once we lose our biblical moorings, our philosophical arguments goes adrift.  When God made Adam and Eve, God gave them “dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth” (Gen 1:28).  After the Great Flood, God told Noah:

Fear and dread of you shall come upon all the animals of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon all the creatures that move about on the ground and all the fishes of the sea; into your power they are delivered. 3b Any living creature that moves about shall be yours to eat; I give them all to you as I did the green plants. 4c Only meat with its lifeblood still in it you shall not eat.* 5Indeed for your own lifeblood I will demand an accounting: from every animal I will demand it, and from a human being, each one for the blood of another, I will demand an accounting for human life.d(Gen 9:2-5)

If you are going to kill your animal to eat it, God allows you to do it. If you want to kill your animal to put an end to its suffering, the Bible does not explicitly say, but it appears you can do it.  But if you are going to kill a man to end his suffering that is another story: God explicitly forbids it, because, as God told Noah, God will demand an accounting for every human life whose blood was shed by another man.  Thus, mercy-killing or euthanasia of another man is wrong.

This is what the Cathechism of the Catholic Church teaches about Euthanasia:

Euthanasia

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; one’s 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.

Filipino nurses and doctors needs to read carefully these words of the Catechism, because Church defines what are morally and not morally acceptable forms of treatment.  These statements are rooted in 5th Commandment: Thou shalt not kill.  As stated in the original Hippocratic Oath:

I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.

But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.

In this time of Lent, Jesus shows us that the path to human happiness is not by spurning the cross but embracing it.  Suffering, when united to the suffering of Christ, becomes redemptive.

About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

2 Responses to Filipino Nurses: Is the right to life the right to end life (euthanasia)?

  1. Hello! Thank you for this post. I’m a Canadian RN of Filipino descent. Nurses from all over the world who respect human life need to speak out against euthanasia and assisted suicide. Here in Canada, the laws will soon be changed to allow legal killing – it’s only a matter of time. I invite you to come over to my personal blog, 8kidsandabusiness.com and read what I wrote about euthanasia just a couple of days ago.

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