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Von Hügel Institute

for Critical Catholic Inquiry

This project discusses issues arising from current legislation on medically assisted suicide for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and mental illnesses.

The contentious issues surrounding the debate on consent and physician-assisted suicide reach difficult impasses when applied to people suffering with mental health problems and disabilities. Should euthanasia be granted on the grounds of mental health suffering? What are the challenges and risks of this practice for policy making? How are the views of disability rights movements affecting assisted suicide laws? How is the general perception of disabled lives (in terms of value, dignity, agency) affecting this debate and what consequences does it have for our society?

The project took off with a one-day workshop on 8 December 2017. Participants presented their papers in a unique setting bringing together divergent, often conflicting, perspectives (legal, medical, ethical, anthropological, philosophical, and theological) with the aim of rethinking and reimagining some of the key concepts involved in the discussion, such as quality of life, dignified death, autonomy/dependency, mental capacity, unbearable suffering, cultural and social attitudes toward disability.

The project was co-sponsored by the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy (University of St. Thomas, Minnesota, USA), with the support of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights (Rome, Italy).




SPECIAL WORKSHOP ISSUE: selected papers from this workshop have been published as a special issue of the Journal of Disability and Religion (Taylor & Francis).

If you are interested in this project and for any other questions please contact the project coordinators: Dr Thana Campos; Dr Lidia Ripamonti





A unique institute of advanced studies inspired by Catholic thought and culture, focussed on contemporary global realities, and dedicated to encounter, dialogue, and transformation