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Christian Perspectives on Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicides - Research Paper Example

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Christian Perspectives on Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicides

Since then, the ethics of the practice has evolved, and so have the reasons for proscription. Nowadays, the proscription is based more upon practical concerns then scriptural ones – concerns such as the introduction of a slippery slope; the possibility that the person might be cured and miss his or her chance for this cure; and the need to create a culture of life that values everybody in society, even the infirm and terminally ill. Still, the belief remains that God has sovereignty over life and death, and man cannot usurp this. St. Thomas Aquinas was one of the first religious figures to advocate this, and the traditional Christian proscription for the practice has been based upon this ever since. Although some individual Christians may take issue with the official church teachings on the subject, for a variety of reasons, in the end the practice should be banned because of the practical concerns listed above. Discussion According to Fontana (2002), there have been a variety of traditions throughout the ages concerning the ethics of euthanasia. For instance, in Ancient Greece, Hemlock, a common poison, was made available for individuals who desired a “good death,” after an appeal to a tribunal. In fact, ending one’s life was a festive occasion for the elderly and the infirm, as they drank ceremonial poison at a banquet that honored their lives. It was similar in ancient Rome (Fontana, 2002, p. 147). Of course, these practices were prior to Christianity, and the advent of Christianity caused these euthanasia practices to be outlawed (Fontana, 2002, p. 147). In particular, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine declared such practice a great sin. However, an increase in secularism during the Renaissance period and Enlightenment in the 18th Century caused a resurgence of Greco-Roman beliefs regarding the practice, and this greater tolerance continued into the 19th Century when social philosophers advocated for the practice. However, even though there was great tolerance for the practice, it was not entirely accepted as it was in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, because the church still had some sway, and, as the church believed the practice to be sinful, this had some impact on society and the laws regarding euthanasia even during the Renaissance and Enlightenment (Fontana, 2002, p. 147). Euthanasia may be either involuntary or voluntary. Involuntary euthanasia occurs when there is brain death or the person is otherwise incapacitated. In that case, especially if there is some kind of directive from the person, in that he or she signed a living will or a “Do Not Resuscitate” order, then that person will be allowed to die. Voluntary euthanasia, however, is more active and involved, therefore more controversial. Voluntary euthanasia is when an individual who is of clear mind chooses to end his or her life with assistance (Nayernouri, 2011, p. 54). Nayernouri (2011) further delineates the practice of euthanasia from suicide. As she explains, suicide is an act that one takes by oneself, without assistance, and this is not as controversial as euthanasia as the act of suicide is presumably one’s right, although the world’s religions, including Christianity, Islam and Judaism view this act to be one of great sin (Nayernouri, 2011, p. 54). The secular rationale against euthanasia are that the patient may be treated therapeutically for depression or pain, which are the major reasons why individuals choose euthanasia. It is for this reason that the American Medical Association (AMA) has come out against the practice. The AMA’s stance on euthanasia is inconsistent with its other stances which conflict with the traditional pro-life views regarding abortion and ...Show more


Christian Perspectives on Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicides.
Euthanasia has been around for thousands of years, although it used to be perfectly acceptable. The ancient Greeks and Romans condoned the practice, and actually celebrated it…
Author : bjohns
Christian Perspectives on Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicides essay example
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