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Religious Studies

Christianity: euthanasia

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Responding to suffering

The Roman Catholic Church is opposed to euthanasia [Euthanasia: Literally, 'good death'. ] as murder. In Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II said that to cause death in this way was 'a grave violation of the law of God'.

However, if large doses of painkillers are used to help ease a person’s suffering, and as a result of these the person ultimately dies, this is understood as ‘double effect’. The intention was not to kill the person, but to allieviate suffering. In the same way the Church does not believe that doctors should use any ‘extraordinary treatment’ to keep people alive against the odds.

The Church of England holds similar views saying that "there are very strong arguments that people should not be kept alive at all costs when they are suffering intolerable pain".

One response from Christianity to the question of euthanasia has been the creation of hospices. These are special places where terminally ill people are cared for and allowed to die with dignity without resorting to euthanasia.

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