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Suffering Within Context of Faith


  1. Euthanasia
    • Medical / Generic definition
    • Bioethical definition.
  2. Describe pain and suffering within context of faith
  3. Physician Assisted Suicide / Death ( PAS / PAD)
    • Definition
    • Is it ethical?
    • Should we have the right to end our lives? Why yes or why not?
  4. Better alternatives to PAS; compare and contrast each:
    • Hospice
    • Palliative care / Terminal sedation
  5. Case studies. Brief summary of:
    • Hemlock Society
    • Jacob Kevorkian
    • Britanny Maynard
  6. Read and summarize ERD paragraphs #:  59, 60, 61.

suffering within context of faith


Medical / Generic Definition: Euthanasia refers to the intentional termination of a patient’s life by a physician or another third party, typically to relieve suffering from a terminal illness or unbearable pain.

Bioethical Definition: Bioethics views euthanasia as a contentious issue revolving around the moral and ethical considerations of intentionally ending a life, often tied to concepts of autonomy, suffering, and quality of life.

Pain and Suffering within the Context of Faith: Different faith traditions offer varying perspectives on pain and suffering. Some see it as a test of faith or a means of purification, while others advocate for compassionate end-of-life care to alleviate suffering. Religious views may influence one’s stance on euthanasia and end-of-life decisions.

Physician Assisted Suicide / Death (PAS / PAD):

Definition: Physician-assisted suicide (PAS) involves a physician providing the means or information necessary for a patient to self-administer a lethal dose of medication to end their life. Physician-assisted death (PAD) is a broader term encompassing both physician-assisted suicide and physician-administered euthanasia.

Ethical Considerations: The ethics of PAS/PAD are highly debated, with proponents arguing for patient autonomy and the relief of suffering, while opponents raise concerns about the sanctity of life, the potential for abuse, and the role of healthcare professionals in ending life.

Right to End Our Lives:

Ethical Consideration: The question of whether individuals should have the right to end their lives is complex and often depends on cultural, religious, and philosophical perspectives. Arguments in favor emphasize autonomy and the right to die with dignity, while opponents stress the inherent value of human life and the potential risks associated with legalizing euthanasia.

Better Alternatives to PAS/PAD:

  1. Hospice: Hospice care focuses on providing comprehensive support to terminally ill patients and their families, emphasizing pain management, comfort, and emotional support without hastening death.
  2. Palliative Care / Terminal Sedation: Palliative care aims to improve the quality of life for patients facing serious illnesses, focusing on symptom management and holistic support. Terminal sedation involves sedating a terminally ill patient to relieve refractory symptoms, with the intention of keeping them comfortable until death occurs naturally.

Case Studies:

  • Hemlock Society: A right-to-die organization advocating for physician-assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia, named after the poisonous plant Hemlock. It played a significant role in the debate surrounding end-of-life choices.
  • Jack Kevorkian: Also known as “Dr. Death,” Kevorkian was a controversial figure who assisted numerous terminally ill patients in ending their lives. He ignited debates about euthanasia and PAS in the United States.
  • Brittany Maynard: A young woman diagnosed with terminal brain cancer who became a prominent advocate for the right-to-die movement. She chose to end her life via PAS in a state where it was legal, sparking discussions about end-of-life choices and autonomy.

Summary of ERD Paragraphs #59, 60, 61:

  • Paragraph 59: Addresses the duty to provide ordinary and proportionate means of preserving life, including nutrition and hydration, even when unable to provide a cure. It emphasizes the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary means of care.
  • Paragraph 60: States that patients have the right to refuse medical treatment that is burdensome, dangerous, or disproportionate to the expected outcome. However, they should not be denied basic care such as hydration, nutrition, and warmth.
  • Paragraph 61: Discusses the morality of administering pain medication to alleviate suffering, even if it may indirectly hasten death, provided that the intent is to relieve pain rather than to cause death. It underscores the importance of appropriate pain management in end-of-life care.

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