Euthanasia: The Moral Issues

By Robert M. Baird; Stuart E. Rosenbaum | Go to book overview
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Assisted Suicide
An Ethical Perspective

Gerald D. Coleman

... In its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes), the Second Vatican Council taught that euthanasia is "opposed to life itself" and "violates the integrity of the human person." 1 This Pastoral Constitution teaches that whatever is opposed to life, such as euthanasia, is indeed an "infamy" and consequently a crime against humanity. This ethical affirmation has found subsequent repetition in important and pivotal documentation in the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1980, for example, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the Declaration on Euthanasia. This Declaration confirms and elaborates the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. It explains that human life is a gift from God over which humans have stewardship but not absolute dominion. Since life is the basis and necessary condition for all other human goods, its destruction is an especially grievous violation of the moral law, whether the victim consents or not. 2

Particularly important is the Declaration's definition of euthanasia as "an action or an omission which of itself or by intention causes

Reprinted by permission of the publisher Issues in Law and Medicine, Vol. 3, No. 3, Winter 1987. Copyright © 1987 by the National Legal Center for the Medically Dependent & Disabled, Inc.


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