End of Life Care
Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide
As a Christian community we seek to enable each other to live life abundantly in Christ and to enter death in full confidence in Christ’s abiding presence. Euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide, which presumes that human choice about death pre-empts God’s will, does not help a person experience a meaningful death.
Christians must discourage the world view that some lives are not worth living. We believe that there is no such thing as a “useless” life. The value and worth in our lives rests primarily in our relationship with a God who loves us.
Excluding Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide; we recognize and support the right of a competent individual, who is facing the end of life, to decide the aggressiveness of his/her care. If an individual is incompetent to make or incapable of making this decision, then a substitute decision maker, who respects the wishes of the individual as far as they are known, can make this decision on his/her behalf.
Do Not Resuscitate Order
It is important to understand that a terminally ill person’s request that life not be sustained by aggressive efforts (e.g. CPR, intubations and artificial ventilation) which constitutes a “Do Not Resuscitate” order does not constitute euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. Similarly, it is also appropriate for a terminal patient to choose any degree of medical aggressiveness (eg. palliative care or non-painful interventions only).
Withdrawal of Life-Sustaining Treatment
In the patient for whom there is no reasonable expectation of meaningful recovery the withdrawal of life sustaining treatment does not constitute euthanasia or physicianassisted suicide. This decision should be made in consultation with the appropriate medical and spiritual professionals.
Palliative care means using measures which relieve symptoms rather than to striving to cure. We recognize that it is permissible to use medications to relieve symptoms, even if these medications shorten life, so long as the intent is to relieve suffering rather than to cause death. We further recognize the responsibility of medical professionals to alleviate pain within these parameters.