Youth Outreach Resource Hub: Euthanasia and PAS
What is euthanasia? What is PAS?
As of today, Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, Washington D.C., and Vermont have Death with Dignity statutes. In Montana, PAS/PAD 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. So what is Euthanasia, and what is PAS/PAD?
Euthanasia is "the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma" (Oxford Dictionary). Euthanasia is the intentional ending of a life before its natural end. It is categorized in different ways, which include voluntary (patient's consent is available) or non-voluntary (patient’s consent is unavailable).
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.
Voluntary euthanasia is also known as "physician-assisted suicide" or "PAS," "physician-assisted death" or "PAD," or sometimes just as “assisted suicide.” This practice is "the suicide of a patient suffering from an incurable disease, effected by the taking of lethal drugs provided by a doctor for this purpose" (Oxford Dictionary).
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.
Why are euthanasia and PAS wrong?
Ending of a human life
Coercion, elder abuse, and semantics
Preys on the vulnerable, mentally ill, and disabled
Legalization puts the poor at risk
Assisted or not, it's all suicide
Denies those in a vegetative state or with a terminal illness any chance at an improved condition
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.