Date of Award

Spring 2018

Access Restriction

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Theology

School or College

Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Tracy Tiemeier, Ph.D.

Abstract

The paper explores historical positions on suicide and philosophical, theological, and moral positions on physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. In 1900, most people died from infectious diseases, which have relatively short periods of morbid decline. With advances in the biomedical sciences, people are living longer, and most people die from chronic diseases, which are usually accompanied by prolonged periods of morbid decline. In addition to living longer, people today are generally more individualist and seek methods to control many aspects of life. While assisted death is rarely used, it represents a means to control end-of-life suffering. The paper demonstrates that there is substantial opposition to assisted death among philosophers, theologians and bioethicists. The paper also argues that improved education about end-of-life palliative alternatives would alleviate fears about end-of-life suffering. The thesis is that the use of palliative alternatives is morally and ethically superior to physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia.

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