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“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil, for you are with me.” (New American Bible Psalm 23:4)
In society today there are many times we may feel that we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Death and suffering have become topics that are shameful, fearful and should be avoided at all costs.
This viewpoint can be seen in the discussion today regarding physician-assisted suicide and whether it should become a legal practice. The Catholic Church takes a strong and unwavering stand against these actions. The Church reinforces this belief by focusing on the inherent dignity of every human person and reminds all those suffering that the act of suffering unites us in a closer way to Christ.
Physician-assisted suicide is defined as the voluntary termination of one’s own life using physician-prescribed medications that cause death. The Catholic Church is against this because one of the foundational beliefs of Catholicism is that “human life is sacred and inviolable at every stage and in every situation; it is an indivisible good.” (Evangelium Vitae, The Gospel of Life, 1995, No.87)
One of the major beliefs of those in favor of physician-assisted suicide is that they are allowing people to achieve Death with Dignity. This belief claims that the killing of these people is a merciful action and a way to end the person’s suffering.
This belief is flawed because it is attempting to endorse a behavior that is easily dissuaded. If it is wrong to end one’s life than it must always be wrong to end that life. If we say that some people can have their lives ended early without any real moral repercussions than we are saying some lives have less meaning than others. We live in an age where we have access to many different techniques of caring that can help alleviate much of the pain from a suffering patient.
A great fear involving physician-assisted suicide is that since these means of pain care are expensive, the person suffering might think they personally are not worth the cost and choose to end their life so they don’t burden their families. This can also lead to elderly people not being offered certain medicine and treatments that might allow them to return to their normal lives. These elderly people might be only given one option — to end their own lives.
This fear is the reason why it is vital for us to stand up for our brothers and sisters allowing everyone the opportunity to realize that human dignity exists in all people and that no action can take away one’s human dignity.
The video below is a clear example of the problems to fear from Physician-Assisted Suicide.