Right to Die and Religion

Find Out Where Your Religion Stands On Physician-Assisted Dying

Congregation sitting in church
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If you are considering your right to die, you may be wondering what your religion says on the subject.

One of the important aspects of choosing to die in your own timeframe is understanding how your religion or spiritual views may affect your choice.

There are two aspects to this determination:

  1. Claiming “membership” in a specific religion or belief system may help guide your decision.
  2. Understanding how your own faith and spirituality balance against that membership should be measured during your decision-making, too.

    We'll discuss different faiths after a brief overview of the right to die movement.

    Understanding the Right to Die

    There are many terminologies associated with the right to die movement, including:

    Death with Dignity is the terminology for state legislature that allows adults who are terminally-ill to legally request and obtain medications from their doctors to end their lives. As of 2016, four states currently have Death with Dignity acts: California, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. The Montana Supreme Court has ruled that nothing in the state law prohibits physician-assisted dying.

    Religion and Right to Die

    Different religions have different viewpoints on a believer's right to die on their own terms. Here is an alphabetized list of many of the major religious belief systems in North America and their points of view on choosing the right to die.

    • Christianity and Protestantism vary in their stances on aid in dying. While Methodists and Unitarians may leave it to the discretion of their followers, others like Presbyterians and Lutherans are firmly against it. American Baptists focus on “caring goals” while Southern Baptists feels it violates the sanctity of life.
    • Hinduism does not have one answer for everyone. The answer is a question of karma: Assisting in death (one’s own or someone else's) may have a negative effect on karma, or it may be considered a good, moral deed and a benefit to one’s karma.
    • Islam strictly forbids any form of assisted dying because, according to the Koran (Qur’an), all life is worth living.
    • Judaism for the most part is against the choice of aid in dying.
    • Mormonism does not support the right to die, but Mormons are given permission not to extend life through unreasonable means.
    • Roman Catholicism says that any death that is not a natural death, that may be brought on by any outside influence specifically intended to shorten life, is a sin. Roman Catholics believe that scripture specifically denies any form of self-infliction of death or assisting another person’s death, no matter the circumstances.

    More About Decision-Making and Right to Die

    Learn more about religious and spiritual beliefs and how they factor into making the decision to end one’s life.

    One’s faith and religion are only one aspect of end-of-life decision making. Here are other factors that you should weight as you consider Death with Dignity and the right to die.


    Death with Dignity National Center