Can we choose to die at our own terms? The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine By Lianne Tiu


Recently, we heard the sad and highly publicized story of 29 year-old Brittany Maynard, who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and decided to take her own life. Some suicide advocates are using her story to fuel emotions and to market the idea of “death with dignity” – that people should be able to have a choice to end their lives if they are suffering. They also want the government to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Maynard’s story is making us consider an issue, which we haven’t thought of before – that of accepting suicide and euthanasia.

Suicide is taking our own life. Euthanasia is assisting death to someone who is suffering. We have to be reminded that both are sins against the fifth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” Nowadays, we hear people talking about their rights, their choices. “Who has the right to tell me that I deserve to suffer greatly for years?” “Why can’t I have the right to choose when, how and where to die?” God alone is Lord of life and death. (Deuteronomy 32:39; Job 12:10, 1Samuel 2:6) He created us. He alone has the right to decide when we should die. We are not the master of our own lives. If we are in pain, if we are unhappy with our lives, God wants us to endure our suffering patiently for a higher purpose, which we sometimes cannot understand. Euthanasia, on the other hand, is actually false mercy.


Our intention may be good; we want to alleviate or cease the suffering of the sick, elderly or the dying. But such action or omission, which causes death is evil. We do not have the right to dictate when and who should live or die. When a person in extreme pain expresses his desire to end his life, we must refuse (even if his sickness is incurable and is at the last stage of life). True compassion is to help him, to give him our love and patience, to pray for him, and to teach him about the redemptive and purifying value of suffering. We also ask the priest to administer the sacrament of anointing the sick (which can help eliminate his fear and anxiety and can help him accept suffering and death). Our help is not to hasten death or to assist him in killing himself.

(Reference: The Faith Explained Today by Joe Babendreier; “Brittany Maynard Ends her Life” by Sheila Liaugminas {Sheila Reports Nov. 3, 2014})