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How the ethics of Religion you have studied might approach issues surrounding euthanasia

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A traditional Catholic or natural law approach would argue that suicide goes against the idea of humanity as the ‘faithful steward’ of life given by God. The Catholic Church considers euthanasia as ethically wrong; this deontological viewpoint has always taught the absolute and unchanging value of the commandment ‘You shall not kill.’

Natural Law teaches us that both birth and death are part of life procedures which God has shaped, so we should respect them. Issues surrounding euthanasia hold resonance with abortion. Christians deem that the intrinsic dignity and value of human lives mean that value of each human life is identical. Human dignity is not measured by mobility or intelligence, as we are all made in the image of God. Subsequently, the unborn, the ill and the frail should exist regardless of their circumstance. This concept is referred to as the sanctity of life.

Catholic teaching argues against euthanasia for the reason that it believes in the positive significance of suffering. Pope John Paul II has written ‘It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms the souls.’

The Roman Catholic Church teaches ordinary treatments for the dying such as feeding must always be continued, but those ‘extraordinary’ treatments such as a complicated operation that is unlikely to succeed, need not to be given. In terms of natural law, the advancement of medical technology has produced an ethical grey area. The Catholic Church favours support and community for the terminally ill, pining for the best possible palliative care. It is also the duty of the catholic clergy to spiritually aid patients to prepare people for death, for example giving the sacrament of the sick.

The Catholic church believes that a human being who insists that they have ‘a right to die’ is denying the truth of their fundamental relationship with God.’ Choosing to die’ could be viewed as lacking faith in an omnipotent God, who has the power to create change or perform a miracle. It was just recently that three year Layla Towsey woke up from a five day coma, who knows what good things can come out of the last phase of a person’s life? It is for this reason that the Catholic Church up hold their stance on the sanctity of life and actively campaign against the practice of Euthanasia.

‘Religious ethics leave no room for compassionate treatment of the dying.’ Discuss. It could be argued that leaving someone to die in severe pain is immoral. Seventy four year old Reginald Crew was one of the first Britain’s to visit Switzerland for assisted suicide. He was in so much pain that it was seen as a ‘humane act to end his life.’

Many world faith teachings show grave compassion for the dying. Although many religions do not agree with the act of euthanasia, this is not to say that they do not show compassion to the dying. Judaism believes that it is wrong to shorten a life even if it would end very soon, because every moment of human life is considered equal in value to many years of life. So even if a person is a goses (someone who has started to die and will die within 72 hours), any action that might hasten their death – for example closing the eyes or moving a limb – is prohibited. This treatment of the dying may be viewed as not acting in the best means of compassion.

Although within the Jewish faith a doctor cannot do anything that hastens death, “if there is something which is preventing the soul from departing” a doctor can remove whatever is preventing the dying person’s soul from departing. So if a patient is certain to die, and is only being kept alive by a ventilator, it is permissable to switch off the ventilator since it is impeding the natural process of death. This Jewish teaching can be seen as treating the dying with compassion.

The Catholic Church abstractly views Euthanasia as a form of murder. We could argue that if Euthanasia was made legal in the U.K, the laws regulating may be abused, and ill patients may be coerced into their own deaths by relatives or friends. They could effectively be murdered for a variation of reasons, such as monetary gains. Because the catholic church protest against Euthanasia, in effect they are protecting the dying, from any foul play.

The Catholic Church also show compassion for the dying by favouring support and community for the terminally ill, pining for the best possible palliative care. It is also the duty of the catholic clergy to spiritually aid patients to prepare people for death, for example giving the sacrament of the sick.

I would disagree that Religious ethics leaves no room for compassionate treatment for the dying. In all faiths it is common place to look after the sick and pray for them. Opposition to euthanasia does in fact protects the rights of the dying and up holds the sanctity of life.

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