Life is a gift from God which should be respected and protected through all of its stages. Each human life has inherent worth, regardless of age or physical, mental or other abilities. Care for the sick and the elderly is part of God’s call for Christians. We must not abandon those in need, and we must not deliberately bring about their death, even for compassionate reasons.
Medical technology's ability to prolong life complicates questions regarding when and how life should end. Many people do not want machines to keep them alive, particularly if they are in pain; real problems arise, however, when artificial measures of resuscitation and life support delay death rather than properly supporting life. At the same time, we must distinguish between a patient refusing medical treatment when death is inevitable and choosing death when it is not.
When someone struggling with a terminal or debilitating illness asks to die, the questions which face us as family members and friends, as neighbours and as a society, include: "what is the merciful response?", "what does compassion require of us?" Such suffering is real; the desire to end the pain and suffering of terminally ill patients may be understandable. There is indeed a growing tendency to promote “mercy killing” as a solution to pain and suffering resulting from age, illness, or mental or physical disabilities.
Since all human life is precious, though, euthanasia or assisted suicide is never a right or acceptable solution. God has created medical practices that treat extremely effectively pain and other distressing symptoms of terminal disease. Palliative care and emotional support are necessary and appropriate responses to those who suffer from terminal illnesses and/or are near death.
Conversely, advances in palliative care and pain management methods are often threatened when euthanasia and assisted suicide are sanctioned as a means of relieving pain and suffering. A society that seeks to solve problems by intentionally killing, rather than through providing optimal care, will increasingly devalue human life. As a result, legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide threatens the life of every terminally ill patient and endangers society’s most vulnerable, as well as society at large. In countries like the Netherlands, for example, the sanctioning of euthanasia and assisted suicide has led to an increase in involuntary euthanasia.