The Roman Catholic View of Euthanasia

Euthanasia, or the premature and unnatural ending of a human life, obviously raises many moral issues and questions. Is it moral to end ones life before they die naturally? From the standpoint of the Roman Catholic Church, Euthanasia can be both moral and immoral, depending on the circumstances of it’s use and the way it is performed. There are two types of euthanasia. There is active and there is passive. Active euthanasia is always immoral without question. One cannot induce death, with such aids as poison or anything else for that matter -- that is considered Active euthanasia. Therefore, assisted suicide also falls well within the realm of 'immoral.'

Passive euthanasia is basically removing life support or not performing extraordinary procedures to keep someone alive. But, in order for passive euthanasia to be considered moral, there are certain conditions which must be met. If any one of these conditions is not met, then the act is considered immoral and a grave sin by the Catholic church.

The first of these conditions is that the patient in question must be suffering from a terminal illness with no hope of recovery. The second is that there is an obligation to use all ordinary medical treatment to help save the patient, however the use of extraordinary medical treatment can be used, but is not obligatory. Another condition is that one may not stop treatment just to end the patient’s life. The intention must be to relieve pain and end suffering. Treatment whose purpose is to relieve undesirable pain and anxiety may be used, even if shortening the death process may be the outcome. One also may stop any treatment that is simply prolonging the death process. And last, whether treatment is stopped or not given can never be a matter of the patient’s utility or financial situation. If all of these factors and conditions are met or followed, then that passive euthanasia may be considered moral and acceptable.