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Beginning Apologetics – How To Answer Tough Moral Questions 4 – Euthanasia

February 2, 2009

Here’s the audio for the 4th session, and the outline is below. 

I’ll throw in the audio for the 5th session too, since it really completed the Euthanasia piece, and because I haven’t finished the outline for Contraception!

Here’s the post on the online support resources for the class; this will keep you from having to order too many books.

And the outline for Euthanasia follws:  Thanks, and God bless!

How to Answer Tough Moral Questions

Euthanasia

February 2/February 8. 2009

•I.Introduction

A.  Euthanasia is intentionally killing a person who is suffering, or whose life seems burdensome or meaningless.

•1.    Can be suicide or done by others

•2.    Self-inflicted – suicide

•3.    Done by others = murder

B.  Euthanasia is becoming more popular/widespread

•1.    Legal in Holland, and in some states in the US

•2.    Push for legalization is strong

•3.    Practiced sometimes even where illegal with no fear of prosecution

C.  Reasons for euthanasia’s wider acceptance:

•1.    Lack of faith in God

•2.    Suffering not meaningful – loss of belief in spiritual value of suffering

•3.    Weak resolve – people flee from least discomfort

•4.    Chronic disease – increase in length of survival of cancer, strokes, Alzheimer’s

•5.    Burden of disease – Fear of being a burden to loved ones, or fear that doctors won’t let one die

•6.    Medical Advances – Have made it possible to end people’s lives through relatively painless methods.

D.  We must as Catholics be prepared to refute those who promote euthanasia. Must also be aware of morally permissible actions which could be mistaken for euthanasia

•II.Church Teaching on Euthanasia

A.  Several documents apply:

•1.    Declaration on Euthanasia

•2.    Charter for Health Care Workers

•3.    Evangelium Vitae

•4.    Catechism of the Catholic Church

B.  Common mentality today that we are masters of our own bodies.

C.  Evangelium Vitae tells us (39) that life is a sacred gift from God, the Lord of our lives

•1.    We are only stewards

•2.    Therefore, human life must be protected from conception to natural death.

D.  The Declaration on Euthanasia (DE) says in Part I:

•1.    Any deliberate attempt on innocent human life = crime of the utmost gravity.

•2.    We have a duty to lead our lives in accord with God’s plan, for the Kingdom of God.

•3.    To intentionally take one’s own life through suicide is the same as murder.

•a)     There may be serious psychological problems that diminish guilt or eliminate it.

•b)    Even so, suicide is still a serious objective evil.

•c)     We should not despair of the salvation of a suicide victim.

•4.    We must clearly distinguish suicide from the nobility of sacrificing one’s life to a greater good (soldier falling on a grenade, as an example).

E.  Points from DE Part II

•1.    The please of gravely ill people for death are almost always cries for help and love.

•2.    We are never permitted to take innocent human life. No authority has the right to approve of euthanasia for any reason (goes against the divine law).

F.   Points from DE Part III:

•1.    It is vital that the gravely ill/dying receive sufficient pain relief.  We should presume that those unable to express their wishes still desire pain relief.

•2.    In cases of extreme pain, heavy doses of medication may be used even when there is a great risk of hastening death. Shortening of life is an unwanted side effect (principle of double effect)

•3.    If needed for adequate pain relief, a person may receive high doses of pain medication even if it causes loss of consciousness.

•a)     But don’t deprive a person of consciousness unless absolutely necessary

•b)    Ensure that patients can take care of family obligations and receive the sacraments before they lapse into unconsciousness.

•4.    We believe as Christians that suffering has great redemptive value:

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking 14 in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” (Col 1:24)
Those who unite their suffering to the suffering of Christ = powerful prayer warriors,

Some Christians even limit their pain medication for the sake of spiritual gain (considered heroic, not obligatory)

G.   Part for of DE deals with ordinary and extraordinary treatment.

•1.    Extremely important because many Catholics agonize over how far they must go in treating the gravely ill/dying.

•2.    Ordinary means of treatment: medical procedures that are well-established, known to help, not excessively burdensome due to expense/side effects (will depend on factors such as patient’s age, condition, avail. technology)

•3.    Extraordinary means of treatment: procedures considered exceptional because they are experimental, expensive, or have serious physical/psychological side effects. (will depend on factors such as patient’s age, condition, avail. technology)

•4.    While we do not have the right to take our own lives, we do have a right to die with Christian/Human dignity.

•5.    Wea re allowed to forego extraordinary means and make do with iordinary ones; not equal to suicide, just accepting our condition.

•6.    When death is imminent, we can refuse forms of treatment that will prologn the dying process. Normal care must continue, including food, water, warmth, and hygiene. (CHCW: artificial administration of food/water if not burdensome, is considered ordinary care (section 120))

•7.    The gravely ill and dying may, if they wish, undergo extraordinary treatments, including new and experimental treatments.

H.  We have clear guidelines from the Church in these matters, but their application is a matter of conscience.

•1.    We should get as much info as possible form our doctors and pastors, and make the best decision we can.

•2.    IF we are sincerely trying to follow Church teaching, we shouldn’t be tortured by scrupulosity.

•3.    WE MUST NOT keep second-guessing our decisions; God is reasonable in His requirements, and useless anxiety/doubt destroy peace of mind, and keep us from attentive prayer when we need it most.

•III.Answering Euthanasia Supporters

A.  Even pagan doctors from centuries before Christ realized euthanasia = murder; they used natural law arguments alone.

B.  Nowhere does either Sacred Scripture OR Sacred Tradition mention any exceptions to the 5th Commandment because of suffering or terminal illness.

C.  The same reasons justifying euthanasia are the same Hitler and Stalin used to justify their atrocities.

D.  Reasoning opens the door to justifying any evil.

E.  Hippocrates figured it out; should we be able to rather than pressing wonderful technologies into the service of the culture of death?

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