The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Oregon’s euthanasia law today. Oregon’s law allows terminally ill patients, defined as patients whom at least two doctors agree have six months or less to live and are of sound mind, to choose when to end their lives.
I have mixed feelings about euthanasia. I worked in a nursing home/rehab center in high school and college, and regularly dealt with death and dying as part of my job. There were many people with whom I interacted on a daily basis who suffered horribly for years, and whom I (and traditional medicine) was powerless to help. I watched family members in emotional agony over the inevitable deterioration of their loved ones. After a few months, when the condition of their loved ones became too much to bear, family members eventually stopped visiting, and their mother and father died alone. When we would prepare the body of one of our beloved residents to be taken away, I often thought how much “happier” it would be if their family and loved ones had been able to be at their bedside to say goodbye to them.
But, on the other hand, there is something about the deliberate act of ending a life — no matter how miserable – that gives me pause. Perhaps the Oregon law provides sufficient safeguards to allow people to die with dignity while preserving the sanctity of life, but I’m not sure.
The Mormon Church defines euthanasia as “deliberately putting to death a person who is suffering from an incurable condition or disease.” And clarifies that “[e]nding a life in such a manner is a violation of the commandments of God.”
For those who are interested in the Church’s position on euthanasia, this is a link to a press release explaining it.