Dear Sister Mary Rose Chinn,

Before I begin to go in depth about the topic of euthanasia and I would like to start off by thanking you for coming to talk to my Bioethics class. I realize how busy your schedule is and appreciate the fact that you would clear up your schedule to come and talk to my class about the Catholic Churches point of view on the matter of life. Most of my school tends to be very liberal in regard to this topic, especially in the curriculum here at Foothill Technology High School, so I am very grateful for you coming and presenting a point of view that often goes unnoticed.

Throughout the entirety of this letter I will be explaining the different points of view on the topic of active euthanasia. I will present the point of view of individuals who have experienced the traumatic event of being left paralyzed, nations such as the Netherlands who practice active euthanasia, and the Catholic Church. I will conclude this essay to telling you my point of view which as you may very well imagine is… predictable.

Europe has always been ahead in the sense that many of the nations which compose it have been quick to instill practices which have yet to be seen in other Western societies. Switzerland and the Netherlands have been two sovereign states which have been cutting edge by legalizing the use of active euthanasia on individuals who have a terminal illness and are going through an immense among of physical pain. The Swiss have never legalized the practice but do allow physicians to prescribe lethal medications that will lead to their death. This loophole in the Swiss’s form of governance has allowed for the creation of companies such as Dignitas which specialize in killing both Swiss citizens and foreigners by providing them with the materials that allows them to end their life in a “dignified manner.” It was this same company which help end the life of British rugby player Daniel James.

The Netherlands, on the other hand, legalized this practice in 2002. They are firm believers that providing patients with the ability to end their lives is the ultimate type of palliative care. They also “do not regard [active euthanasia] it as separate from the delivery of terminal care, but rather as the last dignified act of terminal care.” For the Dutch, life is a decision not an obligation and as such mentally competent individuals should have the “right” to end their life when they he or she desires it. As the situation is now, only individuals suffering from terminal diseases can choose to take part in physician assisted suicide. However, obtaining “death with dignity” is not as simple as it may seem. In order for an individual to be approved for physician assisted suicide they must be approved by a panel consisting of various individuals. Those included in the panel include a physician, psychologist, priest (depending on the religion of the individual), and other medical personnel. For them, this is a way to ensure that a system of checks and balances is put in place in order to secure that individuals with lesser intentions do not prevail in their attempts to kill off another human being. Theoretically this is a safe guard that prevents the so-called ‘slippery slope’ from occurring in Dutch society.

A person who would agree completely with the point of view of the Dutch is Australian journalist, Chris Hill. Having lived life to the fullest and savored the fruit of life, among other things, the young journalist ended his life after having being left a quadriplegic. His accident, which left him with only the crumbs of freedom that he once possessed, left him feeling like a savage who cannot even go to the bathroom on his own. He admits to feeling degraded because he lost “the very core of his masculinity.” What is more, watching everyone’s mobility felt like a slap in the face because it “was a stinging reminder of [his] condition” which undoubtedly was emotional discouraging.

Chris Hill took his life in 1993. Even though he was not suffering from a terminal disease, his inability to cope with the loss of his mobility was the catalyst in his suicide mission. It was his prideful and egotistical personality that longed to return to his previous life of sin and lust which hindered his ability to reconcile with the loss of his mobile freedom. In laymen terms, he believed that there was simply no value to his life and therefore inferred that there was not “dignity” in the life of individuals who are physically incapacitated.

Allison Davis, an individual born with myelomeningocele spina bifida, would be someone who would completely disagree with Chris Hills point of view on the “quality of life.” Lucky enough to have parents who would not give up on her upon birth, she was “given the chance to defy the odds and live.” She has had a completely fulfilling life having been married for more than a decade, traveled the world, and having a successful career as a sociologist. The notion of ‘non-personhood’ that is brought upon society on individuals who have disabilities sickens her because it makes handicap people seem as 2nd class citizens who need an easy way out. She is a strong believer in the notion that everyone deserves a chance and as such we should preserve the life everyone, especially those who are ill. Care, love, and attention, from her perspective, is what should be given to a patient when he or she is ill, not the ability to end their life prematurely. What Allison Davis does is give proof to the world that people with disabilities can have extremely successful lives in all regards (i.e. socially, career, etc.). Her opposition to legislation that would support active euthanasia for people with terminal illness strikes fear in her because who knows where the line may be drawn? Who isn’t to say that with time people with physical disabilities won’t be given the same “right to die”? Who isn’t to say that with time the ‘slippery slope’ will not take effect and the State will not begin killing off individuals with physical and maybe even mental disabilities?

As can be imagined, the Catholic Church echoes Allison Davis concerns and point of view. In their Declaration on Euthanasia the Catholic Church clearly states that they oppose the premature termination of life. The use of active euthanasia is a clear defiance of God’s love and insults Him by us taking the powers that should solely be reserved for Him into our own hands. For the Catholic Church everyone has a right-to-die and that “right” comes when God beckons us to his side. No exceptions can be made because no exceptions can be made for committing a sin.

Suicide, in the eyes of the church, is a Capital Sin and as such the committing of this act may lead an individual ending up in purgatory, if not eternal damnation. As Catholics see it, those who are asking to die don’t really mean it. What they are experiencing is anger and resentment at their present condition and believe that people with terminal illness or disabilities require palliative care in addition to love, affection, attention, and dedication. The fact that we would even consider active euthanasia is a disgrace because it is a mockery of Western civilization. It is a return to savageness and barbarianism. As the Decleration on Euthanasia states “[Active euthanasia is a] violation of the divine law, an offence against the dignity of the human person, a crime against life, and an attack on humanity.”

The Catholic Church has long been a crusader for preserving the dignity of life and protecting those who find themselves in the clutches of a disease or disability. However, that does not mean that it forces its followers to jump through loops in order to sustain their lives. The church agrees with individuals who do not seek to find treatment to cure themselves (such as in the case of cancer). On the other hand, it also supports individuals who take pain medication or involve themselves in experimental treatment that may cause them harm or end their life.

The churches stance on this subject stems from its definition of illness and physical suffering. As you explained sister, pain and suffering are parts of life which are not only natural but also unavoidable. In my copy of Catechism of the Catholic Church: Second Edition illness is described as something which can “make a person more mature, helping him discern in his life what is not essential so that he can turn toward that which is. Very often illness provokes a search for God and a return to him.” What we can infer from this is that pain and suffering is a part of life which is cathartic by its very nature. It is a stage in one’s life in which as person sees the true value in things. It may bring them joy. It may bring them closer to their families. It may bring them the answer that they have been looking for. It is because of this that the Catholic Church opposes active euthanasia because it (a) ends life prematurely and (b) does not allow individuals the time they need to reflect on what is truly valuable in their lives.

Sister I must be honest with you. As the days pass and I am exposed to more overly romanticized Hollywood films, I grow sympathetic for the “Right to Die” campaign. However, although my emotions may at times hinder my reasoning process, in the end I am who I was at the beginning of this lesson: a devout Catholic who believes that every life is precious and should not be ended prematurely.

As a matter of fact I would say that at the end of this unit in Bioethics I remain even surer of my beliefs. From where I see it every life is a gift from God and as human beings we must make it a priority the gift given to us by Him. As mere mortals and servants of God, who are we to take on the divine role of deciding when to terminate a life? Who are we to decide if a human being is “fit” to live or not? I am not necessarily fearful of the “slippery slope”, but I am afraid of the message we would be giving to others. Teenagers, for example, are some of the most troubled, over dramatic, and under thinkers in society. Just look what happens when a woman who is “in love” goes through a break up. Most just get flustered, but many become deeply troubled if not suicidal. The fact the U.S. government endorses physician assisted suicide tells everyone that it is okay to kill yourself. As a matter of fact, the U.S. government will even write a law to protect your “right to die.”


All-in-all, I stand beside Allison Davis and the Catholic Church in their decisions to support life, even at the last stage of life. In regard to people like Ramon SanPedro and Chris Hill I believe they are individuals who never recovered because they never wanted to recover. They were so infatuated with the idea of death and angered about their impaired mobility that they never let themselves go through the healing process. I strongly believe that if they truly opened up their mind and let themselves grieve then they would have recovered and been able to have fulfilling lives much the same way that Allison Davis has had. However, they chose not to and rejected everyone’s love and affection in order to commit suicide.


Dying with dignity does not mean dying when you want. Dying with dignity means accepting your fate and going when the Holy Father beckons you to his side. The overly romanticized things portrayed by Hollywood anger me because they give people the wrong idea. They glorify death and make it seem as a heroic action when in reality it is a cowardly and sinful way of ending one’s life. Just look at the film Million Dollar Baby. It shows a “merciful murder” being committed to an individual who is suffering with quadriplegia. It shows one side of a complicated situated, giving viewers an even more jaded view on a situation such as this. Needless to say I disagree with the murder that took place during the film.

Let it be known that I stand beside the Catholic Church in their crusade to preserve and protect life. As an individual who used to be extremely liberal in issues both social and fiscal I cannot help but feel as though I am making the correct decision in opposing the anti-life “right to die” campaign.

With All Due Respect,
Otto T.

Dear Sister Mary Rose Chinn,
Before I begin to go in depth about the topic of euthanasia and I would like to start off by thanking you for coming to talk to my Bioethics class. I realize how busy your schedule is and appreciate the fact that you would clear up your schedule to come and talk to my class about the Catholic Churches point of view on the matter of life. Most of my school tends to be very liberal in regard to this topic, especially in the curriculum here at Foothill Technology High School, so I am very grateful for you coming and presenting a point of view that often goes unnoticed.
Throughout the entirety of this letter I will be explaining the different points of view on the topic of active euthanasia. I will present the point of view of individuals who have experienced the traumatic event of being left paralyzed, nations such as the Netherlands who practice active euthanasia, and the Catholic Church. I will conclude this essay to telling you my point of view which as you may very well imagine is… predictable.
Europe has always been ahead in the sense that many of the nations which compose it have been quick to instill practices which have yet to be seen in other Western societies. Switzerland and the Netherlands have been two sovereign states which have been cutting edge by legalizing the use of active euthanasia on individuals who have a terminal illness and are going through an immense among of physical pain. The Swiss have never legalized the practice but do allow physicians to prescribe lethal medications that will lead to their death. This loophole in the Swiss’s form of governance has allowed for the creation of companies such as Dignitas which specialize in killing both Swiss citizens and foreigners by providing them with the materials that allows them to end their life in a “dignified manner.” It was this same company which help end the life of British rugby player Daniel James.
The Netherlands, on the other hand, legalized this practice in 2002. They are firm believers that providing patients with the ability to end their lives is the ultimate type of palliative care. They also “do not regard [active euthanasia] it as separate from the delivery of terminal care, but rather as the last dignified act of terminal care.” For the Dutch, life is a decision not an obligation and as such mentally competent individuals should have the “right” to end their life when they he or she desires it. As the situation is now, only individuals suffering from terminal diseases can choose to take part in physician assisted suicide. However, obtaining “death with dignity” is not as simple as it may seem. In order for an individual to be approved for physician assisted suicide they must be approved by a panel consisting of various individuals. Those included in the panel include a physician, psychologist, priest (depending on the religion of the individual), and other medical personnel. For them, this is a way to ensure that a system of checks and balances is put in place in order to secure that individuals with lesser intentions do not prevail in their attempts to kill off another human being. Theoretically this is a safe guard that prevents the so-called ‘slippery slope’ from occurring in Dutch society.
A person who would agree completely with the point of view of the Dutch is Australian journalist, Chris Hill. Having lived life to the fullest and savored the fruit of life, among other things, the young journalist ended his life after having being left a quadriplegic. His accident, which left him with only the crumbs of freedom that he once possessed, left him feeling like a savage who cannot even go to the bathroom on his own. He admits to feeling degraded because he lost “the very core of his masculinity.” What is more, watching everyone’s mobility felt like a slap in the face because it “was a stinging reminder of [his] condition” which undoubtedly was emotional discouraging.
Chris Hill took his life in 1993. Even though he was not suffering from a terminal disease, his inability to cope with the loss of his mobility was the catalyst in his suicide mission. It was his prideful and egotistical personality that longed to return to his previous life of sin and lust which hindered his ability to reconcile with the loss of his mobile freedom. In laymen terms, he believed that there was simply no value to his life and therefore inferred that there was not “dignity” in the life of individuals who are physically incapacitated.
Allison Davis, an individual born with myelomeningocele spina bifida, would be someone who would completely disagree with Chris Hills point of view on the “quality of life.” Lucky enough to have parents who would not give up on her upon birth, she was “given the chance to defy the odds and live.” She has had a completely fulfilling life having been married for more than a decade, traveled the world, and having a successful career as a sociologist. The notion of ‘non-personhood’ that is brought upon society on individuals who have disabilities sickens her because it makes handicap people seem as 2nd class citizens who need an easy way out. She is a strong believer in the notion that everyone deserves a chance and as such we should preserve the life everyone, especially those who are ill. Care, love, and attention, from her perspective, is what should be given to a patient when he or she is ill, not the ability to end their life prematurely. What Allison Davis does is give proof to the world that people with disabilities can have extremely successful lives in all regards (i.e. socially, career, etc.). Her opposition to legislation that would support active euthanasia for people with terminal illness strikes fear in her because who knows where the line may be drawn? Who isn’t to say that with time people with physical disabilities won’t be given the same “right to die”? Who isn’t to say that with time the ‘slippery slope’ will not take effect and the State will not begin killing off individuals with physical and maybe even mental disabilities?