Orthodox Christian and Ethical Aspects of Euthanasia

  1. Lemma
  2. Православно-этические аспекты эвтаназии
  3. Russian
  4. Asliturk, Miriam
  5. Ethics - Scientific theories and disciplines > Medicine
  6. 19-08-2018
  7. Кондратьев Федор [Author]. Православно-этические аспекты эвтаназии
  8. Церковь и Биоэтика: Церковно-общественный совет по биомедицинской этике при Московской Патриархии.
  9. euthanasia - bioethics - Orthodox doctors - Russian Orthodoxy
  10. Click Here
    1. <p>Кондратьев, Ф.В. (2009). Православно-этические аспекты эвтаназии. <em>Церковь и Биоэтика: Церковно-общественный совет по биомедицинской этике при Московской Патриархии</em>. Retrieved from: <a href="http://bioethics.orthodoxy.ru/analitika/evtanaziya/269-">http://bioethics.orthodoxy.ru/analitika/evtanaziya/269-</a> </p>
    1. The author, an honoured doctor of the Russian Federation, posits that the practice of euthanasia is incompatible with Orthodox ethics. The doctor is responsible to God: his task is to treat, not to kill. A Christian doctor should never lose hope and disregard practices and phenomena such as prayer and the miracle of healing. The author believes that it is the duty of doctors to seek real, medical contraindications to euthanasia, which would enforce the legislative ban on it. One such contraindication is related to the fact that patients, in critical states, can develop psychogenic depressions. Such depressions can worsen patients’ physical condition and make them assess their illness as hopeless. Moreover, the depressed self-esteem of the patient can influence the doctor’s opinion. At the same time, the author argues, such depressions are reversible and consequently so are the attitudes of patients to the possibility of their recovery. Thus, a patient who had already chosen euthanasia can change his or her mind, but sometimes it can be too late.

      The question of euthanasia, according to the author, has another more complex and controversial aspect – that of so-called clinical death. Should patients experiencing clinical death still be treated? Should life-sustaining procedures be carried on? This issue has become particularly relevant as presently even the cessation of a heartbeat or breathing do not necessarily mean the death of a patient. Modern medical technologies thus appear to contradict Biblical texts as the Bible considers the “beating heart as the only sign of life.” The author, however, does not see this as a problem. He points out the metaphorical and symbolic character of the Bible’s representation and believes that Christian doctors should only consider the complete and irreversible death of the entire human brain as the sign of death of a human. This definition of death, the author notes, has been adopted in Russia, North America, Europe, and some Asian countries.

      The brain is the organ which connects the life of a person to the spiritual realm. In modern terms, the brain is a bio-computer that shuts down all analytical programs when it stops functioning itself. Like a dead computer, it becomes dead matter that can no longer connect the body with the Creator. In other words, notes the author, the death of the brain symbolizes the moment of separation of the body and soul, even if the heart is still beating. Thus the diagnostics of death of the entire brain largely removes the necessity of euthanasia in clinical death cases. However, such diagnostics themselves are problematic as they require appropriate equipment, specially trained medical personnel and strict observation of standard procedures, which is rarely possible in reality. The author believes that in the absence of all the above-mentioned conditions death should be pronounced after the irreversible cessation of a heartbeat – and this only after all available reanimation procedures fail.