- Etymologically the word Euthanasia is derived from latin word εὐ
(meaning well/easy/good) and θάνατ (meaning death). Therefore etymologically it connotes easy death. But this meaning has practically passed into desuetude.
Now it refers to the practice of ending a life in a manner which relieves intractable suffering.
Procedurally euthanasia can be divided into two; Active Euthanasia and Passive Euthanasia. Active euthanasia resorts to the use of lethal injection to end the patients life. It is usually performed on
patients who has no chance of recovery and may live in a vegetative state for the remainder of the life either with or without the help of a life support machine. Active euthanasia has been the most debated one for obvious reasons.
Passive euthanasia involves withholding of life supporting drugs,
such as antibiotics, or life support machines, such heart-lung machine, which are necessary for the continuance of life. It is usually done on patients who has no chance of recovery and cannot survive without a life support system. This type of euthanasia is
legal in a handful of countries including India, where the Supreme Court in a verdict legalised passive euthanasia subject to certain conditions.
Major Christian denominations condemn Euthanasia though they are
not clear on placing the guilt, if it exists and hence unsure who is committing the sin; the patient or the one performing euthanasia.
Christians who oppose the practice of euthanasia equate euthanasia
to suicide or murder. They argue that if suicide and murder can be counted as a sin, then euthanasia must certainly be condemned as it is not dissimilar to suicide or murder. The first objection to euthanasia is the result it produces viz. ending a life. Christians believe that God commands the ownership of one's life. As it is God who gave life, only God can take it back. [The�Catechism of the Catholic Church para 2280] and death is seen as evil in itself, and symbolic of all those forces which, oppose God-given life and its fulfilment.
Therefore one can assume that, according to traditional Christian views on morality and theology , active euthanasia is diametrically opposite to what is considered good and pro-life and hence not acceptable.
While it is clear that the traditional Christian churches view active euthanasia as evil� its position on passive euthanasia has not always been clear.For getting a clearer perspective on passive euthanasia we need to know whether or not it is right to prolong a life through modern life-support systems; a life in its natural state would have died.
The Catholic Church in various statements has said that insisting on heroic (exceptional) medical treatment when death is imminently inevitable. The Greek Orthodox also maintain that the Church does not expect that excessive and heroic means must be used at all costs to prolong dying, as has now become possible through technical medical advances. The stand of Coptic Orthodox Church on active euthanasia is well documented, but its views on passive euthanasia are not known.
One of the reasons for not advocating exceptional medical treatment is the understanding that it is not the “natural” thing to do. Hence one is safe to assume that the traditional churches are not closed to the option of passive euthanasia.
Euthanasia is mentioned�twice�in the Bible Judges 9:52-55 and 2 Samuel 1:9-10. The Bible doesn't pass any judgement on both the instances. The traditional views on suicide and euthanasia have been developed from the writings of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas.
But more than what Church or its canons say, it is the people who has a direct bearing on this condition who has to take the decision. If ones conscience permits it and the intention is good it is better to
take the decision to refuse treatment that would only result in a precarious and burdensome prolongation of life.
The�Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Stand of the
Orthodox Church on Controversial Issues-Rev. Dr. Stanley S. Harakas
Zach George Arapura