I know we’ve already had a good discussion here at Mormon Matters about euthanasia. But as this subject has been on my mind lately, due to the news I got recently that my grandfather has terminal cancer, I was struck by what seems to me as a huge inconsistency on the Church’s part if we compare its policies on euthanasia and abortion.
First of all, the Church’s official stance on euthanasia is as follows:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sanctity of human life, and is therefore opposed to euthanasia. Euthanasia is defined as deliberately putting to death a person who is suffering from an incurable condition or disease. Such a deliberate act ends life immediately through, for example, so-called assisted suicide. Ending a life in such a manner is a violation of the commandments of God.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not believe that allowing a person to die from natural causes by removing a patient from artificial means of life support, as in the case of a long-term illness, falls within the definition of euthanasia. When dying from such an illness or an accident becomes inevitable, it should be seen as a blessing and a purposeful part of eternal existence. Members should not feel obligated to extend mortal life by means that are unreasonable. These judgments are best made by family members after receiving wise and competent medical advice and seeking divine guidance through fasting and prayer.
On abortion, the Church states:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sanctity of human life. Therefore, the Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience, and counsels its members not to submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions.
The Church allows for possible exceptions for its members when:
• Pregnancy results from rape or incest, or
• A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy, or
• A competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.
I find it interesting that in regards to people suffering from a painful, terminal illness, “(e)uthanasia is defined as deliberately putting to death a person who is suffering from an incurable condition or disease” and the Church is opposed to it. And yet, when it comes to abortion, the Church states that it is acceptable when “(a) competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.”
Why is it OK to actively end the life of the baby, but not the terminally-ill cancer patient, when there is no hope of either of them surviving? Is such an abortion not also “deliberately putting to death a person who is suffering from an incurable condition or disease… a deliberate act (that) ends life immediately?”
When it comes to the aborting the fetus, why is “(e)nding a life in such a manner” apparently NOT “a violation of the commandments of God?”
Why is the baby not obligated to be carried to term and to live for as long as it survives and endure a natural death like the cancer patient?