IU Northwest Hosts Debate Over Medical Aid in Dying

By St. Joseph County Right to Life | October 30, 2017, 9:54am

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — As part of World Bioethics Day on October 19, Indiana University Northwest hosted a debate about the legalization of “medical aid in dying.” As a representative of the organization, Compassion and Choices (formerly known as The Hemlock Society), Bev Hmurovic stood in support of “medical aid in dying,” while Dan Lowery, former IU Northwest School of Public and Environmental Affairs faculty member and recently retired chancellor of Calumet College of St. Joseph, opposed.


Hmurovic argued that “medical aid in dying” is different than assisted suicide, given that it allows a terminally ill patient to receive a prescription which will enable them to pass peacefully. In order for this to occur, two doctors must verify that the patient’s illness is, indeed, terminal and that he or she has the mental capacity to fully consent to such a decision.


Lowery, however, noted that the move toward acceptance of this practice would lead the U.S. on a slippery slope toward involuntary euthanasia of the elderly, disabled, mentally ill and those with dementia. 


Further, as a senior research professor in the audience asked the panel to consider, opening the door to “medical aid in dying” has the potential to result in a strong negative impact on family relationships and foster guilt in the patient if he or she chooses not to opt to end his or her own life.


Echoing these sentiments, St. Joseph County Right to Life holds that all life is precious and worth living, from fertilization to natural death. Although we understand the severity of the challenges that terminally ill patients and their families often face, we have also witnessed the sacredness of dying and the opportunities to encounter profound fullness of life in one’s final days.


Allowing “medical aid in dying,” physician-assisted suicide, and other similar practices deprive one of the chance to experience great beauty in the midst of great suffering.