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HTS Theological Studies

On-line version ISSN 2072-8050
Print version ISSN 0259-9422

Abstract

DE VILLIERS, D. Etienne. May Christians request medically assisted suicide and euthanasia?. Herv. teol. stud. [online]. 2016, vol.72, n.4, pp.1-9. ISSN 2072-8050.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v72i4.3397.

The article deals with the question: 'Is it morally acceptable for terminally ill Christians to voluntarily request medically assisted suicide or euthanasia?' After a brief discussion of relevant changes in the moral landscape over the last century, two influential, but opposite views on the normative basis for the Christian ethical assessment of medically assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia are critically discussed. The inadequacy of both the view that the biblical message entails an absolute prohibition against these two practices, and the view that Christians have to decide on them on the basis of their own autonomy, is argued. An effort is made to demonstrate that although the biblical message does not entail an absolute prohibition it does have normative ethical implications for deciding on medically assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia. Certain Christian beliefs encourage terminally ill Christians to live a morally responsible life until their death and cultivate a moral prejudice against taking the life of any human being. This moral prejudice can, however, in exceptional cases be outweighed by moral considerations in favour of medically assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia.

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