Religious Perspectives on Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS)


1 PRO Euthanasia/PAS
16 CON Euthanasia/PAS
3 NOT CLEAR Euthanasia/PAS




Assemblies of God CON
"If life's beginning at conception and life's end at death are in God's hands, both abortion and suicide, assisted or otherwise, represent violations of His prerogative. Abortion steals from the womb a life yet to be started; suicide hastens to the grave a life yet to be completed.

The argument for suicide also ignores the profound spiritual implications of the transition from life to death. Its proponents and practitioners offer no insights into the spiritual reality beyond the grave. There is no acknowledgment of mortality or final judgment. This apparent naiveté is indicative of the spiritual deception underlying the right-to-die philosophy."

Source: Assemblies of God, "Sanctity of Human Life: Suicide, Physician-Assisted Suicide, and Euthanasia," ag.org, Aug. 9-11, 2010

Buddhism CON
"Euthanasia is rejected by most Buddhists as contrary to the First Precept, which prohibits intentional killing. This applies even when motivated by a compassionate desire to relieve suffering. However, in this respect, Buddhism adheres to the principle of the middle way (majjhima patipada),and the prohibition on euthanasia does not imply a commitment to vitalism, namely the doctrine that life should be prolonged at all costs. The withdrawal of medical intervention when the end is nigh is accordingly not seen as immoral."

Source: Damien Keown, "End of Life: The Buddhist View," thelancet.com, Sep. 10, 2005

Catholic Church CON
"Some sixty years ago, Pope Pius XII, in a memorable address to anaesthesiologists and intensive care specialists, stated that there is no obligation to have recourse in all circumstances to every possible remedy and that, in some specific cases, it is permissible to refrain from their use (cf. AAS XLIX [1957], 1027-1033). Consequently, it is morally licit to decide not to adopt therapeutic measures, or to discontinue them, when their use does not meet that ethical and humanistic standard that would later be called 'due proportion in the use of remedies' (cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Declaration on Euthanasia, 5 May 1980, IV: AAS LXXII [1980], 542-552). The specific element of this criterion is that it considers 'the result that can be expected, taking into account the state of the sick person and his or her physical and moral resources' (ibid.). It thus makes possible a decision that is morally qualified as withdrawal of 'overzealous treatment'.

Such a decision responsibly acknowledges the limitations of our mortality, once it becomes clear that opposition to it is futile. 'Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted' (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2278). This difference of perspective restores humanity to the accompaniment of the dying, while not attempting to justify the suppression of the living. It is clear that not adopting, or else suspending, disproportionate measures, means avoiding overzealous treatment; from an ethical standpoint, it is completely different from euthanasia, which is always wrong, in that the intent of euthanasia is to end life and cause death."

Source: Pope Francis, "Pope Addresses End-of-Life Issues," Vatican Radio site, archive.org, Nov. 11, 2017

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon Church) CON
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sanctity of human life, and is therefore opposed to euthanasia. Euthanasia is defined as deliberately putting to death a person who is suffering from an incurable condition or disease. Such a deliberate act ends life immediately through, for example, frequently-termed assisted suicide. Ending a life in such a manner is a violation of the commandments of God."

Source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, "Euthanasia and Prolonging Life," mormonnewsroom.org (accessed Apr. 4, 2018)

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America CON
"As a church we affirm that deliberately destroying life created in the image of God is contrary to our Christian conscience. While this affirmation is clear, we also recognize that responsible health care professionals struggle to choose the lesser evil in ambiguous borderline situations—for example, when pain becomes so unmanageable that life is indistinguishable from torture.

We oppose the legalization of physician-assisted death, which would allow the private killing of one person by another. Public control and regulation of such actions would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. The potential for abuse, especially of people who are most vulnerable, would be substantially increased."

Source: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, "A Message on… End-of-Life Decisions," elca.org, 1992

Episcopal Church CON
"Resolved, That this 70th General Convention set forth the following principles and guidelines with regard to the forgoing of life-sustaining treatment in the light of our understanding of the sacredness of human life:

Although human life is sacred, death is part of the earthly cycle of life. There is a 'time to be born and a time to die' (Eccl. 3:2). The resurrection of Jesus Christ transforms death into a transition to eternal life: 'For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead' (I Cor. 15:21).

Despite this hope, it is morally wrong and unacceptable to take a human life in order to relieve the suffering caused by incurable illness. This would include the intentional shortening of another person's life by the use of a lethal dose of medication or poison, the use of lethal weapons, homicidal acts, and other forms of active euthanasia."

Source: The Archives of the Episcopal Church, "The Acts of Convention," episcopalarchives.org, 1992

Greek Orthodox Church CON
"Euthanasia is held by some to be morally justified and/or morally required to terminate the life of an incurably sick person. To permit a dying person to die, when there is no real expectation that life can sustain itself, and even to pray to the Author of Life to take the life of one 'struggling to die' is one thing; euthanasia is another, i.e., the active intervention to terminate the life of another. Orthodox Christian ethics rejects the alternative of the willful termination of dying patients, regarding it as a special case of murder if done without the knowledge and consent of the patient, and suicide if it is permitted by the patient (Antoniades, II, pp. 125-127). One of the most serious criticisms of euthanasia is the grave difficulty in drawing the line between 'bearable suffering' and 'unbearable suffering,' especially from an Eastern Orthodox perspective, which has taken seriously the spiritual growth that may take place through suffering (Rom. 8:17-39).

Ethical decision making is never precise and absolute. The principles that govern it are in a measure fluid and subject to interpretation. But to elevate euthanasia to a right or an obligation would bring it into direct conflict with the fundamental ethical affirmation that as human beings we are custodians of life, which comes from a source other than ourselves. Furthermore, the immense possibilities, not only for error but also for decision making based on self-serving ends, which may disregard the fundamental principle of the sanctity of human life, argue against euthanasia."

Source: Stanley S. Harakas, "For the Health of the Body and Soul: An Eastern Orthodox Introduction to Bioethics," goarch.org, Aug. 14, 1985

Hinduism CON
"An important lesson to learn here is that karma is conditioned by intent. When the medical staff receives a dangerously ill or injured person and they place him on life support as part of an immediate life-saving procedure, their intent is pure healing. If their attempts are unsuccessful, then the life-support devices are turned off, the person dies naturally and there is no karma involved and it does not constitute euthanasia. However, if the doctors, family or patient decide to continue life support indefinitely to prolong biological processes, (usually motivated by a Western belief of a single life) then the intent carries full karmic consequences. When a person is put on long-term life support, he must be left on it until some natural biological or environmental event brings death. If he is killed through euthanasia, this again further disturbs the timing of the death. As a result, the timing of future births would be drastically altered.

Euthanasia, the willful destruction of a physical body, is a very serious karma. This applies to all cases including someone experiencing long-term, intolerable pain. Even such difficult life experiences must be allowed to resolve themselves naturally. Dying may be painful, but death itself is not. All those involved (directly or indirectly) in euthanasia will proportionately take on the remaining prarabdha karma of the dying person. And the euthanasia participants will, to the degree contributed, face a similar karmic situation in this or a future life."

Source: Kauai's Hindu Monastery, "Basics of Hinduism: Karma and Reincarnation," himalayanacademy.com (accessed Apr. 4, 2018)

Islam CON
"Question 114: Assisted suicide is killing a terminally ill patient so he does not have to go through any pain. What is the ruling regarding this action?

Answer [from Ayatollah Sayyid 'Ali Khamenei'i]: Murder is not permissible in any case and one would have to pay blood money and be physically punished.

Question 115: There are three ways to assist a terminally ill patient to commit suicide. First, the doctor injects medicine into the body of the patient that would kill him. Second, the doctor stops giving the patient medicine that he needs which would result in death. Third, the doctor gives the patient a fatal dose of medicine but the patient injects it into his own body. Which one of these is permissible?

Answer [from Ayatollah Sayyid 'Ali Khamenei'i]: It is not obligatory to keep the dying person alive or delay his death, so the second method would be permissible. But, any action that would cause death would not be permissible, for example, the other two scenarios."

Source: Ayatollah Sayyid 'Ali Khamene'i, "Rules Regarding Assisted Suicide," al-islam.org (accessed Apr. 4, 2018)

Jehovah's Witnesses CON
"The Bible does not specifically discuss euthanasia. However, what it does say about life and death offers a balanced perspective. Causing death is unacceptable, but there is no requirement to go to desperate lengths to prolong life during the dying process…

The Bible does not condone taking someone's life even when the person is facing an imminent and unavoidable death. The example of King Saul of Israel supports this. When he was mortally wounded in battle, he asked his attendant to help end his life. (1 Samuel 31:?3, 4) Saul's attendant refused. However, another man later falsely claimed to have fulfilled Saul's wish. This man was condemned as bloodguilty by David?—a person who reflected God's thinking on the matter.?—2 Samuel 1:?6-?16."

Source: Jehovah's Witnesses, "What Does the Bible Say about Euthanasia?," jw.org (accessed Apr. 4, 2018)

Judaism CON
"The preservation of life has always been regarded as a cardinal value in Judaism...

Granted that there may be occasions when aggressive, life-prolonging treatment need not be administered or may even be discontinued, the allowing of the natural process of death to occur by withdrawal of treatment is a far cry from actively terminating life...

There are a number of situations where, in the face of grave suffering, steps may be taken that would or could hasten death. First, pain-relief medication such as morphine may be administered in spite of the risk that it may induce cardiac arrest, provided that the dose is not definitely lethal and is not administered for the purpose of life termination. Second, a patient may undergo a life-threatening, hazardous procedure which holds out even a slight hope of cure, though there is no obligation to do so. Third, halacha [Jewish law] permits the invocation of prayer that G-d take the person out of their pain and misery. Fourth, under narrowly-defined circumstances, life-sustaining (or death prolonging) treatment such as chemotherapy, or antibiotics may be discontinued; DNR or 'Do Not Resuscitate' orders may be entered. As noted, however, all of this falls far short of actively terminating life."

Source: Yitzchok Breitowitz, "Jewish Medical Ethics: Physician-Assisted Suicide - A Halachic Approach," jewishvirtuallibrary.org (accessed Apr. 4, 2018)

National Baptist Convention CON
"This isn't an issue that we've considered. Within the traditional teachings of our church – and black churches in general – there is this notion that the length of one's life is the providence of God, and you let it take its course."

Source: Charles S. Brown, ThD, as quoted in Pew Research Center, "Religious Groups' Views on End-of-Life Issues," pewforum.com, Nov. 21, 2013

Presbyterian Church USA CON
"Decisions to hasten death may be understandable as a last resort when all connection to one's community has been or will be lost and medical pain management is no longer effective. Both medically and spiritually, it is always crucial that the Church and individual Christians address the reasons why people choose to end their lives, listening and drawing on God's love as best we can, and avoiding condemnation. While sharing in the historic Christian opposition to suicide, we do not find it condemned in scripture nor see ourselves called to judge others, particularly those facing irreversible deterioration of awareness and bodily function…

While Presbyterians hold many views on the legalization of PAD [physician aid-in-dying], and while the PC(USA) has not taken a position in opposition to such legalization, pastoral and communal support of persons considering PAD needs to take into consideration a number of important factors… Yet the choices of a severely ill person facing a terminal diagnosis are spiritual, emotional, and physical. The pastor should attempt to promote the fullest possible involvement of the family and congregation in supporting the patient in making decisions consistent with the patient's lived experience and conscience. If it is indeed consistent with the values and beliefs of the dying patient, if the kinds of goodbyes and closings that they seek can be better accomplished, then the option of PAD might possibly be justified and done with reverence and even thanksgiving."

Source: Presbyterian Church (USA) Presbyterian Mission, "Abiding Presence: Living Faithfully in End of Life Decisions," presbyterianmission.org, 2016

Seventh-Day Adventist Church CON
"While Christian love may lead to the withholding or withdrawing of medical interventions that only increase suffering or prolong dying, Seventh-day Adventists do not practice 'mercy killing' or assist in suicide (Genesis 9:5- 6; Exodus 20:13; 23:7). They are opposed to active euthanasia, the intentional taking of the life of a suffering or dying person.

Christian compassion calls for the alleviation of suffering (Matthew 25:34-40; Luke 10:29-37). In caring for the dying, it is a Christian responsibility to relieve pain and suffering, to the fullest extent possible, not to include active euthanasia. When it is clear that medical intervention will not cure a patient, the primary goal of care should shift to relief from suffering."

Source: Seventh-Day Adventist World Church, "Care for the Dying," adventist.org, Oct. 9, 1992

Southern Baptist Convention CON
"WHEREAS, The Bible teaches that God created all human life in His own image and declares human life to be sacred from conception until natural death (Genesis 1:29:6ff); and

WHEREAS, The Bible likewise teaches that murder, including self-murder, is immoral (Exodus 20:13); and

WHEREAS, American society seems to be embracing of the culture of death; Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED, That we the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 11-13, 1996, affirm the biblical and Hippocratic prohibitions against assisted suicide; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we commend and encourage medical science in its efforts to improve pain management techniques, thus removing one major impetus toward assisted dying; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we call upon physicians, nurses, hospice workers, individual Christians and local churches to make emotional, psychological, and spiritual care of suffering patients a priority, thereby relieving the sense of isolation and abandonment some dying patients feel; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we vigorously denounce assisted suicide as an appropriate means of treating suffering; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, That we call upon federal, state, and local governments to prosecute under the law physicians or others who practice assisted suicide."

Source: Southern Baptist Convention, "Resolution on Assisted Suicide," sbc.net, 1996

Unitarian Universalist Association CON
"Guided by our belief as Unitarian Universalists that human life has inherent dignity, which may be compromised when life is extended beyond the will or ability of a person to sustain that dignity; and believing that it is every person's inviolable right to determine in advance the course of action to be taken in the event that there is no reasonable expectation of recovery from extreme physical or mental disability...

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That Unitarian Universalists advocate the right to self-determination in dying, and the release from civil or criminal penalties of those who, under proper safeguards, act to honor the right of terminally ill patients to select the time of their own deaths; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That Unitarian Universalists advocate safeguards against abuses by those who would hasten death contrary to an individual's desires; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED: That Unitarian Universalists, acting through their congregations, memorial societies, and appropriate organizations, inform and petition legislators to support legislation that will create legal protection for the right to die with dignity, in accordance with one's own choice.”

Source: Unitarian Universalist Association, "The Right to Die with Dignity: 1988 General Resolution," uua.org, 1988

United Church of Christ CON
"Issues surrounding death and dying are not easy to engage in a death-denying culture. As people of faith we grapple with them to insure that transition to another stage of eternal life is as peaceful as possible for those who are dying and for those who love them. We know that God is present in both our living and our dying; therefore we are comforted in difficult times.

In 2007 and 2009 the General Synod referred two Resolutions entitled The Legalization of Physician Aid In Dying and Physician Aid in Dying respectively, for further study. In response, a task force was convened by Justice and Witness Ministries.

After much work, what emerged is this six-week guide, Faithfully Facing Dying: A Lenten Study Guide on Critical Issues and Decisions for the Members of the United Church of Christ. It is offered as a resource for this delicate dialogue and intended to assist churches, associations and conferences, as they study the range of choices which surround their understanding of death and dying."

Source: United Church of Christ, "Faithfully Facing Dying," ucc.org (accessed Apr. 4, 2018)

United Methodist Church CON
"The United Methodist Church opposes assisted suicide and euthanasia.

We believe that suicide is not the way a human life should end. Often suicide is the result of untreated depression, or untreated pain and suffering. The church has an obligation to see that all persons have access to needed pastoral and medical care and therapy in those circumstances that lead to loss of self-worth, suicidal despair, and/or the desire to seek physician-assisted suicide."

Source: United Methodist Church, "What Is the United Methodist Stance on Assisted Suicide?," umc.org, 2012