Brittany Maynard

Facing terminal brain cancer, Brittany Maynard recently chose to end her own life “by taking a fatal dose of barbiturates,” People reports. Maynard had moved to Oregon to take advantage of a law there allowing assisted suicide in some cases.

Predictably, the Catholic Church denounced Maynard’s decision. Pope Francis called assisted suicide “playing with life” and “a sin against the creator.” Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, called Maynard’s decision “reprehensible” and said, “Killing yourself is not a good thing; it's a bad thing because it says no to life and to all that means in relation to our duty in the world and to those close to us.”

In short, leaders of the Catholic Church (and many other religions) see your life not as yours, but as God’s or society’s, and hold that you have a moral duty to stay alive for God or for others, even if you face unspeakable suffering and impending death due to terminal illness.

These religionists are wrong. Your life belongs to you, not to any alleged deity or to other people. You have no “duty” to live for—or suffer for—the sake of others. . . .

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