Scott Adams of Dilbert Fame has been contemplating Euthanasia and to his eternal credit, he decided to debate Jimmy Akins from Catholic Answers on the subject. The resulting combox conversation is extremely long and interesting, and it gave me the following idea of how to reduce many of the normal Catholic objections to Euthanasia, for those who dissent on Church Teaching from said subject (I do not dissent from Church Teaching, but this proposal addresses many, if not most, of my concerns on the subject):
A proposal for a new monastic order, researching end of life care, pain management, and Euthanasia. The typical monastery would be a micromonastery, consisting of three small bedrooms, a living area, a kitchen, a dining area. Each bedroom would have a separate toilet and bathing area.
Members chosen for a given micromonastery should be all of the same faith, should dissent from Church Teaching on Euthanasia, and should be all of the same gender (including the odd 58 gender classifications now accepted by the cyberspace community).
This new order would have three offices, consisting of a novice, an initiate, and an elder. The novice should have received a diagnosis of three to five years left to live, the initiate two to three years left to live, the elder, less than six months to live.
The vow of the elder is to create a manuscript autobiography, to be published in the order's journal, after their death. This autobiography is to consider pain management and euthanasia from the point of view of the patient. In addition, the elder promises that if the pain ever becomes unmanageable, they will ask the initiate for assistance in euthanasia.
The vow of the initiate is to be a companion to the elder on their journey, to provide what aid and comfort they can, knowing that one day the elder may ask for death. The initiate also begins their own manuscript autobiography, on pain management from the point of view of the care giver, as well as notes on what they would want when they become an elder.
The vow of the novice is to be companion to the elder and initiate on their journeys. The novice alone has duties outside of the monastery, specifically to go to classes in geriatric and hospice care and learn as much as possible about pain management. In addition to other household duties, it is the job of the novice to go to the pharmacy to obtain such drugs as are necessary to insure that the initiate and the elder feel no pain. The novice also does the shopping, cleaning, and cooking. The novice also proofreads the manuscripts of the initiate and the elder in order to learn their intimate feelings and better manage their pain care.
Such a monastic community gives purpose to the end of life- real world research very much needed in Asia, North America, and Europe where we have aging demographics and a real need for end of life care. Insurance companies should like this option, because it provides care without necessarily needing to pay medical professionals; those involved volunteer their time in the hope of receiving the same care they give. I would argue that this form of euthanasia preserves the dignity of the conventional medical community by removing the entire job of hospice and end of life care from the hospital into intentional homes for the purpose, staffed by the patients themselves. I would argue that this form of euthanasia preserves the dignity and humanity of the patients by imbuing their lives with purpose and meaning, and insuring that they will be remembered by future generations thankfully as martyrs who gave their lives to increase mankind's knowledge of pain management and end of life care. I would further argue that this is following in the example of previous monastic communities that died giving their lives to the service of the dying or even the political need to die, such as that community of nuns during the French Revolution.
In short, I suggest that this proposal turns Euthanasia into Martyrdom- cowardice into bravery- and should, in fact, be in keeping with the finest traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. It is also in keeping with the idea of evolutionary engineering; with an average five year lifecycle of a monastic in this community, who knows what new pain management techniques they may discover in the next ten generations of monastics? And that is only 50 years.
John 15:13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.