A bill has been introduced in the Washington D.C. City Council to legalize assisted suicide. And thus yet another battle is before us in the cultural meltdown of our land. Unpleasant though it is, dear reader, consider with me the proposed legislation and why we, as both Christians and those dedicated to Natural Law and the common good, must vigorously oppose it.
As a tool for reflection, I am using an article published recently on the website DCist.com. I present here some excerpts from the article. The full article is here: Cheh Introduces ‘Death With Dignity’ Assisted Suicide Bill. As usual, excerpts from the original article appear in bold, black italics, and my comments are in plain, red text.
Currently, assisted suicide is legal in only four states, but D.C. could soon join that list. (Why am I not surprised? This same city has been among the jurisdictions “leading” the way to legalizing same-sex unions, pot smoking, and now assisted suicide.) Earlier this week, Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) introduced a bill that would allow terminally ill patients with only months left to live the choice to end their life on their own terms.
One thing must be said to fellow Christians: Don’t you ever end life “on your own terms.” That is not for you to say. Your life is not your own. God gave you that life and you are a steward of it, not its owner. Scripture says, You are not your own. For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body (1 Cor 6:19-20).
Saying that you can take life “on your own terms” is another way of saying, “Jesus is NOT Lord.” That is a terrible renunciation of our faith. Jesus teaches us clearly of the Cross in our life and its value to us who believe. Any Christian who says that people should be able to end life on their own terms is denying the Cross, denying our faith, and denying that Jesus is Lord and has sovereignty over life. Don’t do it.
And do not be deceived by sugar-coated arguments that seek to represent the philosophy of assisted suicide as anything less than a denial of these central truths of our faith.
Don’t even think of going to the judgment seat of Christ and saying, “I did it my way.” Ponder the callousness of standing before our Lord, who was tortured to death for us, and saying to Him, “I deserved to die with dignity.”
Please consider the thinking behind this euthanasia movement and how unfit it is for any Christian to think this way or even to be supportive of others who do.
Suicide for those who are despondent is tragic. But what is being proposed here is a prideful philosophy by those who are well and of sound mind to coldly and with calculation end their life, or be “supportive” of others who do so.
The preceding appeal is to those who say they have faith. Another approach is given below to appeal to non-believers or “lip service” believers.
Under the proposed “Death with Dignity Act of 2015,” a mentally competent patient suffering from a terminal illness that’s “likely to result in death within six months” can request medication that would allow them to choose the time, place, and circumstances of his/her death.” … [He or she] can coordinate with his or her attending doctor and a consulting physician about the possibility of assisted suicide. Once both doctors verify the patient’s terminal diagnosis and determine his or her mental competency, the patient can request a lethal dose of medication they can use when they’re ready. …
Asking a doctor to help you kill yourself is like asking a priest to help you sin. It is wrong and an abuse of the purpose of the medical profession. I hope large numbers of doctors will note this and speak up against it. Doctors and nurses are supposed to bring healing and comfort. Causing death is not in not their job description.
Thankfully, increasing numbers of doctors and nurses are speaking out against this abuse of their profession and I hope none of them will allow themselves to be used in this way. Sadly (as with abortion), there will always be those willing to do it, either for money or because they have wrongfully accepted the premise that helping people commit suicide is “good medicine.”
Rigorous provisions have been included in this bill to protect patients from undue influence or coercion and to ensure that vulnerable populations are protected.
Sorry, but “rigorous” protections aren’t going to help. Sanctioning the suicide of the sick and dying is going to put pressure on all the sick and dying to “check out” and stop consuming “valuable resources.”
All your rigorous protections are not going to stop a souring of the understanding that those who are suffering and dying are worthy of our care. It doesn’t take a trained sociologist to see how these things will play out. It’s simple: 1. Erode the sacredness of human life as wholly belonging to God, 2. Put such decisions in human hands, 3. Add a little economic pressure and pepper it with insurance limits and long-term care clocks that run out, and 4. Voila! Now that Grandma can decide to kill herself, perhaps she ought to decide to do so. “Really, it’s for the best, given the shortage of resources.”
Sorry Ms. Cheh and all proponents of “death with dignity,” but in the end all we end up with is death, and dignity itself is put to death.
And by the way, don’t you dare suggest that my father, who died after a long illness, did not “die with dignity.” Your little slogan is disrespectful to all who suffer but refuse to take your poison pill or ingest your philosophy.
Some will say that “dignity” is merely a reference to our freedom to choose. But where will this dignity go when the pressure to “end it all” grows and the “choice” becomes an expectation?
Asked if she’s discussed the bill with any other Councilmembers yet and has support on it, Cheh says that she “[hasn’t] really tried to take their temperature” on it, and would rather “let it percolate around the building” than trying to rush it through to Bowser’s desk.
Regardless of what may happen with the bill, Cheh said she’s relieved to have finally introduced it. “I felt a great sense of happiness about it,” she said. “I really think it’s something people should be entitled to have … if somebody is capable of making this decision and wants to do it, they should have that choice.”
Notice that in her reasoning there seems to be no sense whatsoever of the common good. It’s all about personal rights and entitlements. She says that people should be able to take their own lives (if they meet all her rigorous “criteria”), but there is not a word about what impact this might have on others.
Why does any government need to sanction this form of suicide at all? For those who really want to kill themselves, there is little that can be done to stop them. We’re certainly not going to prosecute them after they’re dead. It’s also unlikely that we’re going to be able to track down the people who slipped them the means to do it.
Why should the government facilitate such behavior by granting it legal status? Why do so many people demand that government sanction their behavior?
The likely answer to this is that we are dealing with something more than concern for the dying here. We are dealing with advocacy for a movement with its own agenda. This is a movement that has existed for a long time in this country. It wants legal standing so as to grow, gain status, become more well-funded, and draw others to its strange view that suicide is in fact a good thing rather than the awful thing we have always thought it to be. It is a branch of another movement generally called secularism and is another result of moving God to the periphery and man to the center.
Rooted in secularism and, I would argue, pride, the demand to legalize suicide is but another facet of a stone hurled by those who reject the “limits” that faith proposes. They seek to further the notion that man is the master of all things and that there should be no limits placed on our actions by God, organized religion, or religious tradition. Whether this is conscious or not on the part of everyone who advocates this view, I cannot say. But the premises of secularism and anthropocentrism are essential to such an argument winning the day.
To advocates of this sort of secular pride that rejects the authority of God or faith, we can only advance an argument that appeals to the common good:
I cannot prevent you from killing yourself, but please do not ask me to approve of it, or ask our government to fund, regulate, or sanction your death-directed drives. You do not have my support to take what does not belong to you.
In terms of natural law, you ought to consider how your selfish desires will endanger everyone. Cease and desist from your demand that we sanction your view and carefully consider the harm you will bring to the dying, the chronically ill, and the handicapped, whether you intend it or not.
What you claim to offer as optional will soon enough become expected. I don’t know if that is your intention, but it is sure to be the result. Stand down from this misguided notion. Even if you don’t believe in God and even if you think that you actually own your life, please consider that you endanger my life and the lives of others by sanctioning an ultimately self-indulgent notion of suicide.
Think about it! Consider that your insistence on some newly crafted individual right harms the common good in a way that is both unnecessary and unjustified.
Here’s a song that once had an innocent ring to it. Now it is more frighteningly real. The song asks, “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” … or 84, or dying, or chronically ill …