End of Life

The Iowa Catholic Conference opposes efforts to legalize assisted suicide and/or euthanasia.

Each and every person is created in the image and likeness of God. The dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society and fundamental to Catholic social teaching.

The Catholic Church believes that consciously choosing to end one’s life is wrong, and assisting with someone’s suicide cannot be condoned. It is the destruction of life.

Efforts to legalize assisted suicide can gain ground because many people are understandably concerned about what they may face as they near the end of their earthly life. People don’t want to suffer and are concerned that they’ll be painfully hooked up to life-support machines indefinitely. Many wrongly believe that the Church says that life-support systems can never be removed.

In fact, our teaching distinguishes between killing — which is an intentional action or omission to bring about the death of another, and considered unacceptable – and allowing to die, which is withdrawing treatment that is no longer helping a patient and may actually be harming them. Medical and hospice care is such today that much pain and suffering can be relieved in acceptable ways.

We also should consider what physician-assisted suicide would mean to the medical profession. Trying to distinguish “treatment” decisions from “killing” decisions would be difficult at times. It would bring a new dimension to the healing profession – that of killing. Empowering physicians to kill those who are suffering is not a good way to end suffering.

On a practical level, the legalization of assisted suicide would inevitably mean pressure being put on people to insist on being put to death if they become a perceived burden. What kind of demands will be put on patients who will be perceived as a financial drain on the health care system?

While many in our society want to retain a perceived total autonomy over their own life and death, as Catholics we believe we are ultimately responsible to God for the stewardship of our life. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us all a welcome message of hope.

1310, 2016

E-book available on the topic of dying and hospice care

We are also pleased to share with you an e-book on the topic of dying and hospice care. Contemporary society attempts to ignore the reality of death. Unfortunately, this leaves many people unprepared and/or unwilling [...]

1609, 2016

Opposition to “physician assisted suicide” motivated by compassion

By Archbishop Michael Jackels of the Archdiocese of Dubuque Advocates for physician-assisted suicide (PAS) in Iowa have recently begun efforts to get it legalized here, promoting legislation under the name of “Death with Dignity.” This [...]

1609, 2016

Seeking the face of Christ in suffering

By Bishop R. Walker Nickless of the Diocese of Sioux City   Supporters of “doctor-prescribed suicide” often say it is needed to alleviate pain and suffering. In fact, intractable pain is way down the list [...]

1609, 2016

Tending the garden of our lives

By Bishop Martin Amos of the Diocese of Davenport In the Book of Genesis, we read that the first couple was commissioned to care for the Garden that God had planted. They were to serve [...]

1609, 2016

Compassionate, faith-filled care at the end of life

By Bishop Richard Pates of the Diocese of Des Moines Pope Francis often refers to travelling the journey with the vulnerable, especially in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. But what does it concretely look like [...]

2304, 2015

Ethical and Religious Directives of Catholic Health Care Services

“The purpose of these Ethical and Religious Directives then is twofold: first, to reaffirm the ethical standards of behavior in health care that flow from the Church’s teaching about the dignity of the human person; [...]

2201, 2015

ICC opposes “doctor-prescribed suicide” bills

Bills have been introduced in the Iowa House and Iowa Senate to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide, also called "physician-assisted suicide.” The Iowa Catholic Conference opposes the bills. Click on the link for a flier regarding our opposition [...]