Issues in Christian Ethics (Day 4)–Euthanasia

Dr. Feinberg wrapped up the discussion on euthanasia today with some extremely practical and helpful advice regarding terminal illnesses and end of life care. Dr. Feinberg encouraged us not to have a “living will” / “advanced directive” informing the physician what our wishes are should we incapacitated, but rather to have a “durable power of attorney” document that places a family member in charge of our care should we be unable to care for ourselves. The advantage of a durable power of attorney over a living will is that you can still spell out what you want done, but the decision making is placed in the hands of your family rather than a physician who you likely don’t know and may not share your ethical view points.

I think the big takeaway from today’s class was that end of life decisions are best handled far in advance. These aren’t the kinds of things that you want to be thinking about for the first time when you’re in the middle of a crisis, rather you want to have thought about most of these decisions before you’re faced with them. It’s important to talk to your family so that they know your wishes and will be able to help see that they’re carried out.

One ethical area that Dr. Feinberg has forced me to think about more deeply and in a lot of ways has helped to change my mind on is when is it appropriate to stop medical treatment or to remove technology that is sustaining life. The short answer is that it is rarely appropriate to do so, because of the sanctity of human life. That is not to say that there is never an occasion when life support should be removed, but it is far better to err on the side of life than death. This principle applies to feeding tubes, life saving measures, dialysis and much more. Of course, every situation is unique and needs to be thought through thoroughly and prayed over diligently but the big principle is that life is sacred and needs to be preserved.

The last thing Dr. Feinberg covered today was an extensive look at nursing facilities. How to choose a nursing facility and how to pay for one. I’ll probably put that material into a separate blog post, as it’s pretty extensive and very insightful.

It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

January 12 2012 09:52 pm | Issues in Christian Ethics

4 Responses to “Issues in Christian Ethics (Day 4)–Euthanasia”

  1. mary crowder on 12 Jan 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    Hi Drew..Boy do I have questions about this topic.My questions are about acts of SIN here….

    So,what does the bible say about it? Metaphorically, Is it a SIN to artificially sustain a life that is Naturally dying at Gods Will due to causes of self destruction,ect; which is a sin? Is it a sin to receive infertility treatments to help start a life that may not occur without medicine?

    Also, is it a biblical sin for one to STOP this artificial means or reject or stop treatment for one or self who might otherwise be succumed to GODS WILL of a natural death, for which could be everlasting in heaven, if they are a believer. I thought medicine was for healing and comfort only?..
    Where does our church stand on these issues? Does the BIBLE have verses about sustaining or ending life with medicine or with it?Mary

  2. Barbara Davies on 13 Jan 2012 at 11:46 am #

    Drew, could you elaborate on this for me? “We must remember that death is not natural”

  3. Drew on 14 Jan 2012 at 9:40 am #

    Hey Barbara, I think what Dr. Feinberg is getting at in saying that “death is not natural” is that death is an intruder, it isn’t part of the created order, it was brought about by sin and so it is not natural to die. Anytime someone dies, it’s a reminder that everything in this world is broken and is not as it was intended to be.

  4. Drew on 14 Jan 2012 at 9:45 am #

    Wow, Mary that’s a lot of questions! Let me see if I can just give the big idea and than we can talk about it some more in person, ’cause these are really important issues.
    The big idea is that life is sacred and that life needs to be protectived, preserved and sustained as a matter of first importance. It is not that it’s never appropriate to let someone die, but these should by far be the exception to the rule. Hope that helps a little bit.