Dear Sister Mary Rose,

My name is Kent M and I am the extremely tall kid that you shook hands with at the end of class after you came into to talk to us about the Catholic point of view on the subject of euthanasia. As for myself I stand at 6’7, play any sport you can care to name (with the exception of baseball), try to work-out about three hours a day, and am hoping to join the United States Navy in the near future, with the goal of becoming a corpsman (armed medic) for the United States Marine Corps. I am also a staunch republican, and a firm believer in euthanasia.

From what I was able to glean from your lecture and from the extensive articles and video clips we watched in class about the subject, the Catholic Church stands on the side of what I believe that you and Otto referred to as “the sanctity of life” that all life is sacred, even if the person is brain dead. The Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith that your church published, names the “intentionally causing of one’s own death” despite the circumstances or the agony that person may be in “wrong as murder”. It goes on to say that the cry of someone to die is indeed in fact “an anguished plea for help and love” and to allow euthanasia to occur is an “attack on humanity” which presents a very black and white outlook on a grey problem.

You told us in class that we as humans are supposed to suffer for God’s glory, that everything that happens in life happens for part of God’s plan and we must endure whatever comes our way until the end. I apologize if any of what I said was incorrect, but from my understanding of both the class and the lecture the Catholic Church believe that at its core euthanasia is murder, a thing that must be combated and outlawed to protect the sanctity of life. Something that should never be done actively by medical professionals, but is allowed in passively in some dire and extremely rare circumstances.

The Allison Davis point of view (again to my limited understanding) argues that allowing euthanasia, will encourage the idea of “non-personhood” the idea that disabled people are not equal to “normal people”, and that this will lead to the termination of babies born with disabilities. That soon the disabled will be denied “the right of handicapped people to be recognized as equal human beings”, by saying it is ok for disabled people to choose to end their lives is the same thing as saying all disabled people “have no worthwhile quality of life”.

Then the Chris Hill point of view is the exact opposite of Mrs. Davis, Mr. Hill was someone who lived life to the fullest, climbing volcanoes in Vanuatu, he watched the sun “ignite Himalayan peaks in a blaze of incandescent glory”, smoked with a leper in a Hindu temple, and rode a motorcycle at “265 km/h on a Japanese racetrack” to name just a few of his exploits. The life that he knew and loved was “ended” by a hang gliding accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down, “more than three quarters dead” as he put it.

He lost the ability to do the simple things in life, such as get dressed, brush his teeth, or even go to the bathroom unaided, something that Mr. Hill just could not take, “But I lost so much more than just mobility. I lost my dignity and self-respect.” He wrote before he made the choice to end his own life, his point of view being just as straight forward as the Catholic Churches or Allison Davis’s, if lie becomes unlivable then what is the point in an empty and miserable existence?

The point of view in the Netherlands is much more liberal towards the right to die movement than our government here in the states is, allowing those who have a serious medical condition to end their lives if all criteria are met and a doctor gives the ok. “To fail to practice voluntary euthanasia under some circumstances is to fail the patient.” The main argument of the Netherlands is that sometimes pain control techniques are simply not enough, that sometimes the only way to eliminate a patients suffering is to end the patient’s life IF the patient requests it.

The Dutch doctor Pieter Admiraal, in his article about the Dutch way of performing euthanasia stated that “As doctors we have two primary duties: to ensure the wellbeing of our patients, and to respect their autonomy. The first duty entails that we should seek to restore our patients to health and, if we can’t, that we should try to reduce their suffering. The second duty entails that we listen closely to, and respect, the wishes of our patients. Suffering, loss of control, and physical decline are subjective experiences, and nobody but the patient his/herself is in a position to decide, when enough is enough.”

The Netherland point of view is again a simple and straight forward one, if the case is incurable and the patient is suffering, it is the patients choice if they would prefer euthanasia or to die of natural causes.

As for my point of view? I believe that Netherlands has it right, if the patient is in agony or cannot possibly bear being contained to a wheel chair after living such an active and crazy lifestyle as Mr. Hill enjoyed, it is there choice if they wish to go on or die peacefully. No one should have to endure agony if it can be avoided; sure we have amazing pain killers but some of the diseases that exist in this world require so many pain meds that the patient is barely lucid, making their “life” a series of drugged out dreams and waking for only a few hours or minutes each day if even that.
I view life as something to be enjoyed and treasured; my life is a constant stream of activity be it skate boarding, paintballing, or sweating out my stress over finals on a grueling uphill run I am constantly in motion. If that all is taken away from me, I have no idea if I am strong enough to continue living a dreary, completely undignified life as a “head in a bed”. I am not saying that disabled people are less than human or that I have more rights than they. Far from it, my respect for the disabled knows no bounds because they have found strength to endure what I don’t think I could even imagine enduring. I just like the idea of that option being available if god forbid I get bone cancer and have to feel my bones shatter one by one. I do not view euthanasia as an evil thing, nor do I see it as some malevolent plot to have an excuse to “terminate” the disabled, I simply view it as an escape for the desperately hurting when all strength and semblance of strength gives out.

Sister I don’t know all the answers, and my faith in God is nowhere close to the amount of faith that you have. I have incredible respect for you and for what you stand for, I may disagree with parts of your philosophy, but I understand why the church believes the things it does. You have made me seriously question my beliefs on euthanasia, and for that I thank you. Thank you again for taking the time to come and visit us in class and to share your personal beliefs with us.

With incredible respect and gratitude,

Kent M