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Is it permissible to offer assistance in dying?

To bring about death directly is always against the commandment “You shall not kill” (Ex 20:13). In contrast, to stand by and assist a dying person is humane and even obligatory. What really matters is whether a dying person is killed or allowed to die. Someone who kills a dying person (euthanasia) breaks the Fifth Commandment. Someone who helps another person in the dying process obeys the commandment “Love your neighbor.” In view of the certain impending death of a patient, it is legitimate to withhold extraordinary or expensive medical procedures that are not proportionate to the expected outcome. The patient himself must make the decision to forgo “extraordinary” measures or must have stated this intention in an advance directive. If he is no longer capable of doing so, those who are legally entitled must represent the express or probable wishes of the dying person. Ordinary care of a dying person should never be discontinued; this is commanded by love of neighbor and mercy. Meanwhile it can be legitimate and in keeping with human dignity to use painkillers, even at the risk of shortening the patient’s life. The crucial thing is that the use of such medications must not aim at bringing about death, either as an end in itself or as a means of ending pain.

Why is abortion unacceptable at any phase in the development of an embryo?

God-given human life is God’s own property; it is sacred from the first moment of its existence and not under the control of any human being. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jer 1:5). God alone is Lord over life and death. Not even “my” life belongs to me. Every child, from the moment of conception on, has a right to life. From his earliest beginnings an unborn human being is a separate person, and no one can infringe upon his rights, not the State, not the doctor, and not even the mother. The Church’s clarity about this is not a lack of compassion; she means, rather, to point out the irreparable harm that is inflicted on the child who is killed in abortion and on his parents and on society as a whole. Protecting innocent human life is one of the noblest tasks of the State. If a State evades this responsibility, it undermines the foundations of a rule of law.

Dig Deeper: CCC section (2270-2274)