Rightly Rejecting PAS

Pontifical Academy for Life Members’ Support for Assisted Suicide Draws Criticism

This an interesting article. Here is a quick summary.

In Italy Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) is currently legal while Euthanasia is not. A recent popular referendum in favor of legalizing Euthanasia was rejected by the Italian court based on concerns that the proposed law did not provide sufficient protections for the venerable.

Now, two members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Jesuit Father Carlo Casalone and Dr. Marie-Jo Thiel, have argued that the Church should take the position that it would be morally acceptable to support legislation legalizing PAS as a strategic move to prevent legalization of Euthanasia. On its face this is a tempting (literally, see the Screwtape quote below!) position to take.

They liken this position to that of the Church, or a Catholic politician, supporting intermediate legislation that increases restrictions on abortion, say from 24 weeks to 16 weeks, rather than outlawing abortion outright as being acceptable so long as efforts continue to ultimately outlaw abortion.

This analogy is clearly inappropriate. In the case of the abortion law, the Catholic politician is supporting a bill that decreases the performance of the illicit action without promoting an alternative illicit action.

A more apt analogy would be suggesting that a Catholic politician could support the morning after pill (an abortifacient) in hopes that this would make the legalization of abortion less likely. Abortion is not “better” than the morning after pill just like PAS is not “better” than euthanasia.

All four are the fodder of mortal sin, regardless of whether one seems “worse” than another. Consider the warning in the advice given by Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood,

You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

Finally, perhaps Fr Casalone and Dr. Thiel would rethink their position if they were forced to use what appears to be the literal translation of the pertinent Italian term: Homicide of the Consenting