Euthanasia: A Religious View

It’s understandable why some patients and their family members would rather choose euthanasia and assisted suicide. Depending on the patient’s situation, euthanasia or PAS may be the cheaper option compared to the medical bills in the future, and not every family has the financial stability to deal with that. With this, the patient feels as if they are a burden to their family, therefore choosing to be put down. Not only that, but some people are terrified what might become of them later on. They live in fear of not being able to handle the unbearable pain or not be able to lead a normal life and have it ruined by physical conditions such as incontinence, paralysis, and struggle with swallowing.

Even though those against and in favor of euthanasia and assisted suicide have different views on the matter, they both share the same concern, which is to follow the path they believe is right, while having in mind what is best for the patient’s care. In addition, both sides of this controversial issue have to deal with the difficult choice between life or death. But how can an act that is considered morally incorrect by many religions—not just Christian—and promote the murder of vulnerable people be considered an easier option for everyone involved?

Religious Aspects on Euthanasia and Assisted-Suicide

For centuries, religion has been one of the oldest arguments used against the legalization of the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide. Considering Christian values, for example, the Bible does not state anything involving the word euthanasia directly, but it does say that taking another person’s life is morally wrong and that we should preserve life. According to Sullivan (2005), the Bible’s verse on Exodus 20:13 clearly states, “You shall not murder”, with the term “murder” referring to taking the life of an innocent person, not taking into account situations involving self defense (p. 4).

Those in favor of euthanasia and PAS would argue that the procedure cannot be considered as an act of murder and sugar-coat and excuse it as an act of mercy. We, as human beings, cannot escape our death and will eventually have to accept it when the end is near. “We are to relieve suffering when we can, and to bear with those who suffer, helping them to bear their suffering when we cannot. We are never to ‘solve’ the problem by eliminating those who suffer” (Arkes, 1992). By this, we deduce that the only act of compassion that we can and should offer patients should be support and care, to show that they are not alone and have not been abandoned in their time of need.

Plato, pupil of the famous philosopher Socrates, was one of the many philosophers—like Pythagoras, who was against terminating one’s life—that accepted philosophical and theological aspects. He believed that people were to, in body and soul, serve God, which denies them the right to shorten their own lives (Bleich, 1993). Trying to hasten death would be against God’s orders for He is the one that bestowed life upon us and gave us value, and it is not up to us to decide when we should die. As mentioned in Plato’s Laws—one of Plato’s literary works—the act of self-killing could be excused in certain circumstances of insurmountable suffering, but otherwise it was seen as an act of cowardice and laziness to escape the difficulties of life (Cholbi, 2017).

We should broaden our perspectives and take into consideration the many other religious views on the matter, not just Christian values. For example, Al Hamarsheh and Mrayyan (2018) stated, in the Middle East Journal of Cancer, that in Muslim countries euthanasia would go against Islamic values, for they have high regards for the sanctity of life (p. 255). It is also stated that in the Quran, Allah proclaims “O ye who believe! Neither kill (nor destroy) yourselves: for verily Allah hath been to you Most Merciful!” (Al Hamarsheh & Mrayyan, 2018, p. 255). Similarly, to the Bible, the Quran also possesses a verse that can be associated to what euthanasia and assisted suicide represent, murder.

Many people are quick to disregard religious arguments, be it absence of faith or conviction, but many other religions around the world, such as Judaism and Hinduism, are strictly against it or have a certain limitation to the idea. People cannot be coerced to believe in every religion, but religious beliefs are not something that can be easily forgotten or ignored for they have shaped societies for centuries, therefore we should be able to respect and accept their teachings. But alas, if religion is not enough of a reason to condemn the act of euthanasia and assisted suicide, there are also the medical ethics that are as old—if not older—as the religious aspects and are still held in high rega