Organ donation "should not be part of the conversation" when a patient makes a decision regarding physician-assisted dying, said Cooper, and that he feels as though the decision to donate one's organs should be "completely separate" from the decision to pursue euthanasia.
Dr. Moira McQueen, a moral theologian and the executive director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, told CNA said such practices appear "rather horrifying."
McQueen cited the scenario of a patient who opts to begin the euthasia process at home and be transferred to a hospital for organ donation as one that sparks "even more ethical and legal problems." In this case, a patient would essentially be sedated at home and then transported to a hospital for the final dose of lethal medication and then have their organs removed.
"That situation makes it clearer that the focus is truly on 'harvesting'," said McQueen. "The donor's dignity is compromised and the 'separation' of teams that is supposed to be the warrant of independence of the teams is completely blurred."
While the Church does not have ethical issues with the use of organ donations from consenting donors who died natural deaths, or from unconscious donors whose relatives have elected to donate their organs, McQueen said there are serious ethical questions about the transplant use of organs retrieved after euthanasia.
"There's no Church teaching on it that says specifically, you can't. There is definitely something that talks about the dignity of the body, and I would think, as a Catholic, most of us would say 'oh no, you can't use these organs because the person has died a sinful death, died a wrong death by asking for euthanasia," she said.
The ethical questions regarding this situation have not been resolved, she explained, and that she could see both sides of the issue. McQueen told CNA that she feels the conversations regarding organ donation and euthanasia need to be completely separate. If this were the case, following the death of the patient, the organs could be considered "neutral."
"I think there could be a possibility that [the organs] could be used, despite the fact now that we are talking about people who have asked for euthanasia," she said, but could only be considered if the medical team administering euthanasia was entirely and wholly separate from the medical team that handled the organ retreival.
"I think the Church will eventually deal with all these implications, but right now everyone is watching these events unfold and it's tricky to separate what's morally wrong," she said.
Given that a person who is approved for euthanasia may not be terminally ill, McQueen said it is not out of the realm of possibility that a primary physician "might well suggest organ donation as, if not an incentive, a kind of 'consolation' for the person's own loss of life."
"These scenarios are all too real, and many people will be all too willing to 'justify' their decisions by turning something which even to them cannot be an unqualified good into something quite noble," she said.
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