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Med Etika Bioet. 2004 Autumn-Winter;11(3-4):2-6.

Why is the ethics of euthanasia wrong?

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  • 1Vytautas Magnus University, Gimnazijos g. 7, LT-3000 Kaunas, Lithuania.


Human beings are made in the image and likeness of God and are therefore of intrinsic worth or value, beyond all prices. Almost all Christian pro-life arguments spring from the fountain of personal dignity. Euthanasia would make moral sense only if it were possible to say, morally, that this dignity had vanished. To commit euthanasia is to act with the specific intention that somebody should be nobody. This is the fundamental error of all immorality in human relations. To commit euthanasia is to fail to see the intrinsic worth or dignity of the person. The judgement that what has worth, intrinsically, somehow does not have worth, is both logically and morally wrong. The ethics of euthanasia is based on dualistic anthropology and wrong moral presuppositions underlying the defence of euthanasia, namely, proportionalism and consequentialism. The basic claim of proponents of the ethics of euthanasia is that human persons are consciously experiencing subjects whose dignity consists of their ability to made choices and to determine their own lives. Bodily life, according to them, is a condition for personal life because without bodily life one cannot be a consciously experiencing subject. It means that bodily life is distinct from personal life. Thus, the body and bodily life are instrumental goods, goods for the person, not goods of the person. It thus follows that there can be such a thing as a life not worth living--one can judge that bodily life itself is useless or burdensome, and when it is, the person, i.e., the consciously experiencing subject, is at liberty to free himself of this useless burden. Today a key in fighting euthanasia and assisted suicide is better care for the sick and dying. The dignity of the sick cannot be erased by illness and suffering. Such procedures are not private decisions; they affect the whole society. Death with dignity, in the end, is the realisation that human beings are also spiritual beings. We have to promote the way of caring for the dying in which mercy is extended to the patients without inducing death.

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