Dear Sister Mary Rose,
First of all I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Chase H. and I really want to thank you for taking time out of your day to speak to my class. I know we can be quite opinionated. Anyways, there are many points that you made pertaining to the Catholic Church's point of view on the intensely delicate issue of euthanasia of which I agreed with. However, there are certainly aspects with which I definitely disagree. But once again, I'd really like to thank you for giving us a much greater insight as to how the Catholic Church views euthanasia.


So from not only our interaction with you but also from other sources, I believe I have a decently accurate view on how many Catholics view euthanasia. Life is sacred in all stages, and therefore the taking of ones life is in a large majority of cases, wrong. Suicide, euthanasia, and physician assisted suicide would all fall under the category of taking life, essentially murder. You also explained to us how under the Catholic point of view, no extraordinary steps should be taken to prolong or in some cases, shorten life. Extraordinary steps would be considered "playing God" and would consist of many life reducing agents. The only semi-acceptable loophole which I saw was passive euthanasia, or simply letting nature take its course with an individual, such as removing a ventilator or feeding tube in patients who couldn't survive on their own. Catholics believe, that it is a "question of the violation of the divine law, an offence against the dignity of the human person, a crime against life, and an attack on humanity." All life is valuable, and allowing for it to be taken away is going against God's will.


Assuming I have all the above information correct, there are certain aspects that I agree with, and some which I don't. I believe life is sacred of course, but I also believe there is a point at which life becomes unbearable. Should an elderly woman suffering from bone cancer be forced to live her final days in excruciating pain? To me, I think that euthanasia is not always a horrible thing, and in many cases is in the patients, and their families, best interest. This being said, I do agree that passive euthanasia is at least a step in the right direction. The main problem I have with the Catholic point of view is how the Church seems to be forcing their opinions on those who have no religious affiliations. Why should an atheist be required to live up to the Catholic standards and suffer in their final days? Those who live under the Catholic way of life may choose to endure such hardships, but I don't think that the same viewpoints should be pressed on everyone else.


The Catholic Church, as one of the leaders in euthanasia debate will continue to have a strong voice. However, I don't think it is their place to decide for an entire nation how the ending of life should be ruled upon. I think that church and state should continue to be separated in this issue and others. Although I understand the importance of preserving life as long as possible for those who believe in such a way, I disagree with this viewpoint being directly imposed on those who don't have such beliefs. The Catholic point of view is definitely an important one, but it is also one that I don’t see eye to eye with.


In class we read an article written by Alison Davis, a severely disabled woman who fights for the rights of the disabled. Davis was born with a very serious case of spina bifida and has been fighting for her entire life. Although her health is "at best uncertain," she continues to live a fulfilling life. Although she is confined to a wheelchair, Davis doesn't believe that her quality of living is any less than that of an able bodied human being. When she was born, she had many disabilities which gave doctors reason to believe she wouldn't survive. Thankfully though, she fought through it and continues to fight against euthanasia. Alison Davis believes that it puts a target on disabled babies and disabled people in general. With Hollywood movies such as “Million Dollar Baby" romanticizing ending the life of a disable person, it seems that the existence of those in wheelchairs are worthless. Simply being disabled should not be a point which those in favor of euthanasia bring to the table.


However, I disagree with Alison Davis. Although I don't agree with the killing of disabled people simply because of their disabilities, I strongly disagree with the statement that there is a target on the backs of those with disabilities. I believe that living with a disability is often an extremely hard thing to endure, which is a large factor in the amount of euthanizations of disabled people. This being said, it is always their choice. There isn't a modern day Nazi regime raiding hospitals for disabled people to exterminate. It is the choice of those living with disabilities whether or not they seek out doctors willing to help them die in a dignified and honorable way. I believe Alison Davis is jaded by her beliefs and doesn't understand that there is nothing forcing disabled people into committing suicide.


On the other hand, Chris Hill is one of the main advocates for euthanasia. After being involved in a horrendous hang gliding accident, Hill wrote a letter to all who wanted to understand why he had, "checked out." "In short, I once lived life to the max, always grateful that I had the opportunity to do just that, and always mindful to live for today because there may be no tomorrow." After living as a paraplegic, the rest of Chris' life seemed pointless and depressing. For Hill and others in his same situation, death is a welcome relief from the pain that an unfulfilling life brings. "I accepted death - embraced it eagerly, in fact, after so many months of the nightmare - without fear or regret." Along with Chris Hill, Ramon San Pedro is one of the main stories that spread the word about euthanasia requested by the disabled. After many years trapped in his bed, Ramon was released from this world with the help of his friends. However, I don't think that any human should be forced to live for decades in complete misery.
For Chris Hill, Ramon San Pedro and the many others in similar situations, either troubled by disabilities or debilitating diseases, life shouldn't be an inescapable punishment. For the thousands of individuals living with disabilities, it seems very inhumane to insist upon toughing out lifelong suffering. I agree with Hill's idea that no one should be forced to live in less than acceptable settings.


In opposition to the Catholic Churches beliefs, the Netherlands are fairly compliant with the process of euthanasia. They believe that dying with dignity is a right that all humans should have, and individuals should be able to make the call for when "enough is enough." Pieter Admiraal, one doctor who isn't opposed to the idea of physician-assisted suicide believes that it increases patient-doctor relationships. "I practice active voluntary euthanasia - openly and unashamedly. I practice it openly because I am fortunate to live in a country that allows doctors to do so. And I practice it unashamedly because I regard it as sometimes morally right." There are many instances of foreigners actually travelling to the Netherlands simply for the assistance in committing suicide. Dignitas is one of the main "suicide clinics," in which a team of doctors, psychologists and spiritual advisors make the final call in whether or not it would be ethically right to end this person’s life. Not only do the Dutch agree with passive euthanasia, or merely helping one commit suicide, but they also agree with active euthanasia, in which the doctor actually admits the lethal agents. Although this practice isn't commonly used, I do believe it is beneficial to those people who are so disabled or ill that they physically aren't able to commit suicide themselves. "As doctors we have two primary duties: to ensure the well-being of our patients, and to respect their autonomy." The Dutch believe that if there are no options which would help to heal the patient, that they should try their best to end their suffering.


I unequivocally agree with the Netherland point of view when it comes to euthanasia. Patients should have the choice of their treatment, whether it be bringing them back to full health, or ending their suffering. One aspect of the Dutch euthanization process that I particularly like is having a team of specialists decide whether it would be ethical to aide in a certain persons suicide based on their mental and physical health records. This makes sure that individuals who are just finding a permanent solution to a temporary problem are able to find more appropriate solution. Personally I think that the Dutch are definitely on the right track when it comes to euthanasia techniques and protocols.


As for my personal opinions, I am wholeheartedly for the act of euthanasia. I believe that since the foundation of our country, citizens have been ensured the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For some, this happiness may lie in death. Of course there are certain circumstances in which there are much better options than ending a life. For those suffering from terminal illness, I believe that euthanasia or physician assisted suicide is a viable option. The same goes for quadriplegics and those suffering from other debilitating disabilities. However, I don't think that euthanasia should be implemented in any case of depression. Depression is completely curable and therefore, the ending of a life isn't necessary.


Additionally, I do believe that the Dutch practice of hiring a team of specialists to make sure each individual is eligible for euthanasia should be implemented. It is important to make 100 percent sure that there are no other feasible options before aiding in a suicide. Also, no doctor should ever be forced to administer any life ending agents, unless they feel that it is ethical. I believe doctors like Kevorkian are totally justified in wanting to help their patients feel as comfortable as possible, even if that involves death. As for the Million Dollar Baby scenario, I believe what the coach did was completely justified. She went from being a strong fighter with a fulfilling life, to completely paralyzed, something nobody should have to deal with. If it was her choice to end her life, it should be allowed.


In conclusion, I believe that in circumstances in which death is imminent or life isn't worth living, euthanasia should be a sensible alternative. The Catholics disagree, trusting that all life is worth living, no matter the circumstances. This proves cruel, as there are those who disagree with the Catholic Church, and therefore shouldn't be obliged to follow their teachings. The Dutch have some of the most advanced thinking when it comes to euthanasia, which I strongly agree with. If approved by a board of doctors and psychiatrists, euthanasia should be administered to those who request it. Those suffering from terrible disabilities, like Chris Hill and Ramon San Pedro, should also be allowed to commit suicide. Unlike Alison Davis believes, I don’t think that this places a target on the backs of those with disabilities, as it is completely optional and revolves around the individuals choice. Euthanasia helps those suffering, who just want a way out and I am in favor of the more widespread legalization.