No one wants to suffer, nor does anyone want to see their loved ones suffer. This is an important reason why a significant majority of Australians are said to support voluntary euthanasia, and why there a continual attempts to legalise the practice in Australia. However, many people who claim to support voluntary euthanasia do not fully understand or appreciate what euthanasia encompasses. As with other life issues, euthanasia evokes a plethora of emotion, memories, prejudices, and misconceptions, all of which can lead us to settle in favour of myths over reality, and sadly, death over life.
Now that medicine, and especially in palliative care, has become so good at controlling pain and other symptoms, other fears about dying seem to become more prominent. Today we seem to be more fearful and worried about “losing our dignity,” or about having to depend on others. We are more likely to hear people say things like, “don’t let me linger on and become a burden to you,” or “what matters is that I die when and how I choose, with dignity.” Australia’s own “Doctor Death,” Philip Nitschke, and a team of advisers have even formulated a recipe for a home-made pill that they say can provide a “peaceful and reliable death” for people with such concerns. One must wonder whether taking a pill to intentionally end our life, even if it is a life of suffering and dependency, allow us to die with dignity? Or would our death mean something else?
…euthanasia is a false solution to the drama of suffering, a solution unworthy of man. Indeed, the true response cannot be to put someone to death, however “kindly”, but rather to witness to the love that helps people to face their pain and agony in a human way. We can be certain that no tear, neither of those who are suffering nor of those who are close to them, is lost before God.
(Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Address, 1 February 2009.)
We must “choose, therefore, Life, so that you and your children may live.” (Deut. 30:19)