Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Euthanasia and Islam.

At Irtiqa, Nidhal Guessoum is guest posting about euthanasia. It's a two-parter and a quick read:

Part 1 - a discussion of "You Don't Know Jack"

Part 2 - a discussion of euthanasia (or assisted suicide, death with dignity, aid in dying) and Islam

Read these two excerpts, below, and tell me if they don't sound like the Catholic positions, the first espoused by the USCCB (those experiencing pain should be taught to understand the Christian concept of redemptive suffering) and the second by the Catholic Health Association. In other words, the theological and the practical:

I was also pleasantly surprised to find that an Islamic Code of Medical Ethics had been produced in 1981 in the First International Conference on Islamic Medicine held in Kuwait, and in it euthanasia was addressed quite squarely. Among the relevant pronouncements, however, one finds: “The claim of killing for painful hopeless illness is also refuted, for there is no human pain that cannot be largely conquered by medication or by suitable neurosurgery...”; “A physician should not take an active part in terminating the life of a patient, even if it is at his or her guardian’s request, and even if the reason is severe deformity; a hopeless, incurable disease; or severe, unbearable pain that cannot be alleviated by the usual pain killers. The physician should urge his patient to endure and remind him of the reward of those who tolerate their suffering.

Finally, in an interesting recent article published in an Iranian journal of medicine, Aramesh and Shadi (2007) present the orthodox views of Islamic scholars (Shiite and Sunni), but at the very end try to show some “flexibility” by pointing to two instances where “passive assistance in allowing a terminally ill patient to die” would be permissible under Islamic law: (a) “administering analgesic agents that might shorten the patient’s life, with the purpose of relieving the physical pain or mental distress”; (b) “withdrawing futile treatment on the basis of informed consent (of the immediate family members who act on the professional advice of the physicians in charge of the case), allowing death to take its natural course.”

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