The Truth About Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (PAS)
What is Euthanasia? What is PAS?
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 "PAS," "physician-assisted suicide," or “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 Terri Schiavo.
As of today, Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, Washington D.C., 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 humankind 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.
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.
Find out more about why we stand against the acceptance of this practice by checking out these Ten Reasons Why We Oppose Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.
A Local Story
Our own community has a shining counter-example to Brittany Maynard’s tragic decision to end her life on November 1st. Joshua Comeau, native of Mishawaka, father of seven (six living), and parishioner at Queen of Peace, had 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. He takes 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, placing his life and his family’s future in God’s hands.
Though Josh was given 16 months to live, three years later he is cancer-free and continues to live every day to the fullest. though the treatments he received were supposed to eliminate all possibility of conceiving children, Josh and rosary welcomed their seventh child, Zeke, several months ago.
Josh Comeau and his family are courageous witnesses 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.
Last year, a representative from a pro-assisted suicide organization, Compassion and Choices, gave a presentation at the St. Joseph Public Library in South Bend. On high alert, Right to Life representatives attended the meeting under the radar to get a feel for what was going on.
What we discovered was deeply disturbing: while this event was advertised as a workshop to work through normal end-of-life decisions like will-planning, it quickly became clear that the agenda was rooted in advocacy for "Death with Dignity" legislation in our state.
Even scarier is the fact that advocates for this agenda are using the same tactics that were used when abortion was legalized: change the language, stretch the truth, and make it seem like a compassionate choice that is in everyone's best interest.
Although "Death With Dignity" legislation did not make it past committee when it was introduced in Indiana this year, advocates from Compassion and Choices and other organizations are fiercely trying to gain a foothold by pressing forward efforts to "educate" legislators on the supposed benefits of this legislation.
Right to Life is hard at work building a pro-active task force of community professionals in order to respond to what could easily become the next Roe v. Wade.