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Mercy Killing Is Not True Mercy

By Susan Ciancio

The first line in a recent article explains that “a 28-year-old Dutch woman is slated to be euthanized next month because of her struggles with mental illness after her psychiatrist said her condition will never improve.” It then goes on to say that “despite being physically healthy, she plans to end her life due to her depression, autism and borderline personality disorder.”

The thought of anyone taking their life—for any reason—should devastate us. While we pray for this woman and hope that she will change her mind, we must also pray for a society that not only allows but encourages this.

Mercy killing—or assisted suicide—is not true mercy.

The dictionary definition of mercy is “compassionate treatment of those in distress.” But St. Thomas Aquinas has an even better definition. In his Summa Theologiae, he defines mercy as “the compassion in our hearts for another person’s misery, a compassion which drives us to do what we can to help him.”

Helping someone should never lead to that person’s premeditated death.

Suffering is a difficult and often tragic part of life, but our response should not be to get rid of suffering by getting rid of the suffering patient. Our response should be to walk with our friends and family through their suffering. That means we sit by their bedside, read to them, watch TV with them, or talk with them. It means that we cook meals or do other household tasks that they may be unable to do. It means that we use the compassion we feel to care for them not to kill them.

Stories like this remind us of the need for education. Young people spend so much time on social media that they become desensitized to the evils of things like abortion and euthanasia. They hear organizations tout the “benefits” of choosing to die. They come to believe that assisted suicide is a good and easy way to eliminate suffering.

But they are wrong. That is why parents and teachers must be the ones to teach children how to use their empathy, understanding, and compassion to do for others rather than to do to others.

Education is vital. And hearing stories like this on the news can be the perfect segue to discussing these important topics. So now is a great time to introduce our lesson on the end of life with your teens. Entitled Without Mercy: An Introduction to Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide, and Other Threats to the Medically Vulnerable, this downloadable lesson examines the complex topics of euthanasia and assisted suicide and teaches students the reality behind what the culture of death advocates regarding end-of-life issues. This lesson uses Church documents, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and subject-matter experts to give students the tools they need to defend those teachings against current cultural attitudes and pro-euthanasia arguments.

We offer discussion questions, case studies, real-life scenarios, essay questions, and small-group work so students will gain an understanding of euthanasia and assisted suicide, learn how to articulate their beliefs, and feel comfortable standing up for those who are vulnerable or nearing the end of their lives.

Students will also learn the true meaning of terms such as “quality of life,” “death with dignity,” and “brain death” so that when they encounter them as they grow, they will be well equipped to combat pro-death arguments. In addition, students will learn the redemptive value of suffering and why we should use our suffering to unite with Christ on the cross.

We live in an imperfect world, one where our children need moral courage if they are to thrive and become faithful adults. It is our job to arm them with this moral courage.

So as we encounter more and more people who advocate for “mercy killing” or assisted suicide, let us be a voice of reason and true compassion as we teach that, regardless of their condition or state of being, all human beings are valuable and no one should ever take their own life or the life or another.

Because we think it’s so important that your teens understand the evil of euthanasia, we have slashed our price on Without Mercy. Now just $5 (regularly $18!), this crucial lesson will give your students insight into the immorality of euthanasia. Order today!