End of Life Issues

The word “Euthanasia” is a Greek word and literally means “good death.” It involves something one does or fails to do which is intended to cause death of a person with the motivation of helping someone avoid pain by ending their life. Sometimes called “mercy killing,” this practice involves ending the life of a human being prematurely before the time of their natural death. Euthanasia is the moral equivalent of abortion at the other end of life.

In Florida, we experienced up close the tragedy of the starvation of Terri Schiavo. An innocent woman was denied sustenance simply because her quality of life was deemed unacceptable to a judge. This horrific event in our time should alert all people to become aware of the issues surrounding end of life decisions, euthanasia and physician assisted suicide.

Unfortunately, stories like Terri’s are becoming more and more common as our culture continues its course devaluing life.


Talking Points and Basic Information

What Does the Bible Say About the End of Life?
Carrie Gordon Earll, Focus on the Family
Your questions answered about the end of life, euthanasia, and how Christians should respond to death using biblical examples and verses.

When It’s Time to Let Go – A biblical approach to end of life care
Focus on the Family
It is important to broach the subject of death, including your loved one’s preferences for end-of-life care and funeral arrangements, while your elder is still living. This may be your only chance to talk about your fears, make any apologies, express your love and appreciation, and recall special shared memories. It also may be your last opportunity to help your elder prepare to meet the Lord. The words of Scripture often take on special meaning to one who is dying.

Discussing Your Medical Wishes: A Patient’s Guide
Carrie Gordon Earll, Focus on the Family
Discussing your wishes for medical treatment― or who you’d like to be responsible for decision-making in the event you’re ever unable to make your own ― is an important task. This document will help you facilitate discussion with your loved ones around these sometimes-difficult issues. High-profile situations, such as the one involving Terri Schiavo, remind us, apart from terminal illness, an accident or illness could render any one of us unable to communicate our medical wishes. Planning ahead for such a situation will prove helpful to you, your family and loved ones.

Suicide and Assisted Suicide: The Role of Depression
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Many people assume that a large percentage of terminally ill patients come to a fixed and “rational” decision for suicide, to be taken at face value as an expression of their free choice. The reality is very different.

Suicide: Every Life is Sacred
Don Morgan, Focus on the Family
Studies show that roughly 500,000 people attempt suicide each year in the United States. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 25. Educate yourself on the warning signs associated with those considering suicide, and be prepared to lovingly come alongside them in their struggle.

Comprehensive Research and Articles

Physician-Assisted Suicide is a Dangerous Proposition (Video)
Carrie Gordon Earll, Focus on the Family
What’s the danger in allowing some terminally ill people to die at their own hand?

The Facts: The Death of Terri Schiavo
John Stemberger, FFPC President & General Counsel
Principled Thinking & Christian Perspectives on Euthanasia and the End of Life

Always Care, Never Kill: How Physician-Assisted Suicide Endangers the Weak, Corrupts Medicine, Compromises the Family, and Violates Human Dignity and Equality
Dr. Ryan T. Anderson, The Heritage Foundation
Allowing physician-assisted suicide would be a grave mistake for these 4 reasons.

Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Path to Active Euthanasia (PDF)
Richard Doerflinger, M.A., Charlotte Lozier Institute
If physician-assisted suicide is accepted medically and legally, is there reason to believe that barriers can be maintained against physicians being called upon to directly kill their patients?

Study: Assisted suicide can be painful, prolonged and inhumane
Anna Reynolds, Live Action
Assisted suicide activists claim that death by assisted suicide is the relief of suffering and “death with dignity.” But a recent study examining assisted suicide methods shows that there are instances of pain and prolonged death that could involve untold psychological anguish.

Killing the Pain, Not the Patient: Palliative Care vs. Assisted Suicide
By Richard M. Doerflinger and Carlos F. Gomez, M.D., Ph.D.
In short, pain control and other elements of palliative care must be clearly distinguished from intentional killing of patients. In trying to blur this distinction, euthanasia advocates only show their own indifference to the goal of promoting better care for dying patients.

Should We Legalize Voluntary Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide?
Michael Fragoso and Bill Saunders, Family Research Council
The people of the state of Washington recently voted to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Was that a good idea? Should other states follow? Should voluntary euthanasia (VE) and/or physician assisted suicide (PAS) be legalized? When the arguments are examined, and the experience in the Netherlands and Oregon is considered, the answer is a decisive “no.”

Assisted Suicide: Death by “Choice”?
Rita L. Marker, Esq., US Conference of Catholic Bishops
Across the country assisted suicide is being promoted as a “choice” that should be available. This promotion, however, is just the first step of a strategy developed by assisted-suicide advocates to achieve their goal of death on demand.

Physician-assisted Suicide: The Wrong Approach to End of Life Care
By F. Michael Gloth, III, M.D., US Conference of Catholic Bishops
The goal of this article is to provide information on physician-assisted suicide drawn from clinical and public policy experience. Arguments on both sides of the public debate are presented, and it will be shown that as a matter of morality, medicine and public policy, physician-assisted suicide is the wrong approach to end of life care.

The Contagion of Euthanasia and the Corruption of Compassion
Arthur Goldberg and Shimon Cowen, Public Discourse
The contagion of assisted suicide, once the command “Thou shalt not kill” is set aside, quickly spreads elsewhere. True compassion does not abandon people at their most vulnerable.

Dying Well, Assisted Suicide, and the Law
By M. Cathleen Kaveny, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
No one can deny that our society needs to address the challenges posed by rising health care costs. But legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia, particularly in the context of unregulated managed care, is the wrong way to do so. It radically threatens the equal dignity of all human beings, which is a basic premise of democratic government. It also wrongly assumes that the process of dying can never be an important life experience for terminally ill persons and those who love them.

Protecting Against Involuntary Euthanasia by Providers 
National Right to Life Committee
Report finds that most states don’t require doctors to honor advance directives that direct food, fluids and treatment.

Websites, Books and Additional Resources

The Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics

National Right to Life Committee

End of Life Issues
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Assisted Suicide / Euthanasia
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Map: Assisted Suicide in the States
Charlotte Lozier Institute

The Problems with Assisted Suicide (Video)
Dr. Ryan T. Anderson, The Heritage Foundation

Do No Harm: The Peril of Physician-Assisted Suicide (Video)
Family Research Council
By authorizing doctors to violate the Hippocratic Oath of “do no harm,” physician-assisted suicide undermines a key safeguard that protects our nation’s most vulnerable citizens and ensures our loved ones receive the best medical care when they need it most

Assisting Suicide: Why Safeguards Do Not Work
National Right to Life Factsheet

Mercy or Murder: Euthanasia, Morality, & Public Policy (Book) (1993)
By Kenneth Overberg

Euthanasia & Physician Assisted Suicide: Killing or Caring (Book) (1998)
By Michael Manning

Recent News

Euthanasia in the News (Dr. Albert Mohler “The Briefing”)

Short Is the Road That Leads From Abortion to Infanticide, Euthanasia (2019, The Daily Signal)

Doctor: Health Insurance Wouldn’t Pay for Treatment, But Offered Assisted Suicide (2019, Live Action)

BreakPoint: Assisted Suicide Turned Homicide? Doing in the Dutch (2019, John Stonestreet & Roberto Rivera, Breakpoint)

The Ugly Culture Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide Would Create (2018, The Daily Signal)

Physician-Assisted Suicide in Hawaii Is an Attack On All of Us (2018, Monica Burke, The Heritage Foundation)

Joni Eareckson Tada, Experts on Push for Assisted Suicide: ‘This Should Scare Every One of Us’ (2018, The Stream)

He Was Given 4 Months to Live, but Refused Assisted Suicide. Here’s Where His Fight Led. (2018, The Daily Signal)

Assisted Suicide: How One Woman Chose to Die, Then Survived (2018, The Daily Signal)

UN Committee Wants to Make Abortion and Assisted Suicide a ‘Universal Human Right’ (2018, The Daily Signal)

On a Slippery Slope, Canadian Hospital Unveils Physician-Assisted Suicide Plan for ‘Sick Kids’ (2018, The Daily Signal)

According to Oregon’s Numbers, Here’s What Will Happen If Assisted Suicide Is Legalized Nationwide (2016, The Daily Signal)

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