What is Euthanasia?

Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering. It is categorized in different ways, which include voluntary or non-voluntary (patient’s consent unavailable).

Voluntary euthanasia is also known as “assisted suicide.” In such cases, the individual no longer wants to live and enlists the help of a medical professional in killing them. A recent example of this is the case of Brittany Maynard. Involuntary euthanasia, the most controversial form of euthanasia, is when the individual is not able to give or deny consent, the most famous example of which is the case of Terry Schiavo.

As of today, Oregon, Washington, California and Vermont have Death with Dignity statutes. In Montana, physician-assisted dying is legal by State Supreme Court ruling. Much lobbying and support for euthanasia is spurred by Compassion & Choices (formerly known as The Hemlock Society). They are continuing to fight to have a Death with Dignity Bill considered in Indiana legislature.

Why not Euthanasia?

Euthanasia and assisted suicide threaten elderly, sick and disabled persons, often masked by euphemisms such as “aid in dying” and “death with dignity.” Both euthanasia and abortion are based on a view of man that lacks dignity. The Pro-life Community views all life as precious, whether it is that of the elderly, the mentally ill, or even the preborn.

Euthanasia is dangerous in practice for a variety of reasons.

  • In many places where euthanasia has been approved, psychiatric evaluation is not required, leading to the deaths of some depressed or mentally ill patients who would have wanted to live had they received appropriate treatment.
  • The legal availability of euthanasia opens the door to pressure, coercion and even outright elder abuse. 38.6 percent of patients committing suicide in Oregon have expressed concern about being a “burden” on others.
  • Terminal diagnoses and diagnoses of a persistent vegetative state or similar conditions sometimes turn out to be wrong; some patients have received such a diagnosis only to live happily for many more years. But patients are denied any chance when they are killed.
  • Human beings are valuable because they are made in God’s image. Euthanasia deprives individuals of many graces that can happen and it interrupts the process of the Spirit moving towards God.

Euthanasia or suicide should never seem like the only option. Depressed and suffering patients should be treated. Lonely and isolated patients should be cared for. No one should ever feel that his or her life is worthless or meaningless—because every person matters. The answer to disease and disability is love and compassion, not killing.

Local Story

In our own community is a shining counter-example to Brittany Maynard’s tragic decision to end her life on November 1st.  Joshua Comeau, native of Mishawaka, father of six (five living), and parishioner at Queen of Peace, has stage four glioblastoma, the same diagnosis as Maynard.

Comeau, however, is not trying to control the story of his life or lessen his suffering.  He sees that God’s grace is holding his family during this difficult time and giving him the strength to face this reality with peace and even humor.

“I don’t really know, except by God’s grace and mercy, how we’ve accepted this situation…for as long as God wants it to be.”

Comeau attributes much of his positive and courageous attitude to his happy marriage to his wife, Rosary, and the faith that they share together.  Both attended our “Life is Precious” dinner in October.  Comeau says that he will take every day that God gives him to be with his wife and children, and he does not dwell on the “what ifs” involved with having a terminal illness.  Of course he hopes and prays for healing, but he has placed his life and his family’s future in God’s hands.

“I’m not a scholar, but I hold onto the knowledge that God will never give us more than we can handle.”

Josh Comeau is a courageous witness to our belief in the infinite worth of every human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.  He does not wish for suffering, but he is not running from it, and God willing, his story will bring many to understand the true meaning of human dignity.

What can you do?

At this time there is no legislative action for a Death with Dignity bill on the national level. However, this is still an important issue that is gaining traction across the globe. Talk to your friends, family, and neighbors and stay educated on the topic. The more the community understands the importance of life and natural death, the better prepared we will be to stop any traction of upcoming euthanasia bills.