Dr Daly criticises western use of euthanasia


THE use of euthanasia in some secularised western societies has been criticised by the Catholic Primate, Dr Daly. He said that whenever human life existed, there was an obligation to create the conditions to enable its quality to be respected and enhanced.

He said there were indications in the societies of western Europe and North America that the elderly and the very ill can be conditioned into accepting or requesting a painless termination of life, or even that they can have euthanasia decreed for them without their knowledge.

Dr Daly said a new ethic was emerging in secular society which suggested that the "quality of life" was more important than the life itself. He believed this was a specious and seductive doctrine. A little reflection would convince us that monstrous dangers would be unleashed if the world of human beings were left free to decide what "quality of life" should be allowed to be born or should be allowed to survive.

"It is true that life must be given a quality corresponding to its sacred dignity. But life itself is the foundation of the right to quality of life, and not the reverse. Whenever human life exists, there is an obligation on others and on society to create the conditions which will enable its quality to be respected and enhanced. Nothing enhances the quality of life so much as the love, care and compassion which the living who are strong and well have for the living who are weak and ill or aged."

Dr Daly said the nurse was the one who, by caring for threatened life, enhanced the quality of life for us all. He was speaking at the Florence Nightingale Interdenominational Commemoration Service in celebration of nursing in St Patrick's Cathedral, Co Armagh, yesterday.

He expressed his admiration and thanks to the nurses for their work over the last 25 years of violence, faced as they were with so many horrific injuries resulting from the Troubles. It was a tremendous tribute and a great sign for the future that, through the worst years of the Troubles, everyone received the same medical and nursing care from all hospitals and health care personnel, whatever the religious denomination or political views of the carers may have been.