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Statement On Euthanasia Issued at the national symposium on “Protecting, Preserving and Promoting the gift of human life: emerging challenges”

Oct. 19, 2014

More than four hundred doctors, lawyers, nurses, theologians, men and women of various walks of life from different parts of India, gathered at St. Pius the Tenth College, Goregaon, Mumbai, from October 17 – 19, 2014, for a National Symposium on “Protecting, Preserving and Promoting the Gift of Human Life: Emerging Challenges”.  We have noted with a measure of apprehension the move in some quarters to push for the legalization of Euthanasia in India.  At the close of this National Symposium, we the participants make the following Statement:

We unanimously hold that human life is a gift over which we have stewardship but not absolute dominion. We appreciate this gift and take responsibility for it. We cherish and safeguard it from the moment of conception till natural death.  We believe in every person’s value, dignity and sacredness which can never be lost by incapacitating illness or old age.

Thanks to the progress of medical science, human beings have at their disposal ever more effective therapeutic resources.  This has enabled human beings to live longer and more fully.  At the same time, it has posed the problem of care and treatment of those of advanced age and those deemed to have a terminal illness.

We strongly condemn euthanasia which is a deliberate act of taking away a person’s life. We are opposed to it even when a person asks for his or her life to be terminated.  All healthcare providers have a duty to ensure treatment which is necessary, reasonable and appropriate. Society should ensure all possible physical and emotional support to the suffering person and to the caregivers.   

At the same time, we realize that a moment will inevitably arrive when the person’s life will come to an end.  Palliative care is invariably needed; but painful decisions may have to be made to stop futile interventions, when treatment is no longer beneficial to the patient. Death is a natural process and every dying person should be cared for with dignity and compassion. 

We appeal to the executive, judicial and legislative authorities not to legalise euthanasia.

Bishop Agnelo Gracias,

Chairperson, CCBI Commission for Theology and Doctrine and participants of the National Symposium

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