The debate about euthanasia
What is euthanasia?
Euthanasia means 'gentle and easy death'.
The term is used to describe the deliberate ending of a person's life for compassionate reasons because they are suffering, eg from a painful or incurable disease.
A Christian’s approach to euthanasia must balance Jesus' teachings about compassion with the belief that life is sacred.
What does UK law say about euthanasia?
Euthanasia is illegal in the UK. Euthanasia is punishable by law and can carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Assisted suicide is also illegal in the UK. It is punishable by law and can carry a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
What are the alternatives to euthanasia?
There are two main alternatives to euthanasia:
- Hospice - this is where specialist medical staff look after the terminally ill. Palliative drugs are used to help ensure that the person does not suffer any more pain than is absolutely necessary. Staff are able to talk with patients about death and dying and any fears they may have. They are also available to support the family of the dying person.
- Refusing treatment - in the UK all adults have the right to refuse treatment. However, they must have the capacity to understand the situation they are in and to make an informed decision.