Thoughts on Euthanasia

Spring is in the air, and once again the thoughts of progressives turn to euthanasia and/or assisted suicide. At the time of writing, the NSW Parliament is expected to deal with what is called the ‘Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017’. One is treated to the usual words of comfort and assurance: the patient must fully understand what will take place; the illness must be terminal with a 12 months prognosis; there must be severe pain, suffering or physical incapacity; the patient must be at least 25 years of age; there is to be a cooling off period of 48 hours; and two medical practitioners and a psychiatrist must be involved. The model used is even said to be the ‘conservative’ and ‘narrow’ model from Oregon in the USA.

So said the spider to the fly.

What, then, is wrong with euthanasia and/or assisted suicide?

1. Life comes from God.
It is not ours to give. Modern humanity seems to believe that we ought to be masters of our own destiny, but as Hannah said in her prayer: ‘The Lord brings death and makes alive’ (1 Sam.2:6). It is God who declares that human life is precious, made in His image, and therefore not to be taken away except under very exceptional circumstances (Gen.9:6). God is our creator, our Law-giver, and our re-Creator.

2. There are no safeguards.
Safeguards may be put in place, and may mean something for a certain period of time, but the human heart is desperately wicked (Jer.17:9), and will find a way to use a culture of euthanasia to get rid of unwanted old or infirm people, who may be wealthy or costly. Only academia looks down on the ‘slippery slope’ argument. Those whose common sense is still relatively intact realise that one thing can easily lead to another. Why, for example, must the patient be 25? What about a 20 year old? In Belgium children as young as twelve can demand to be euthanized. Arbitrary boundaries tend not to last long.

3. Relationships will be changed.
A medical practitioner is naturally associated with the relief of suffering, not the decease of the sufferer.An expectant mother would hesitate to go to an abortionist as her obstetrician, so most families would be reluctant to go to a practitioner who had just euthanized grandma, even if she had asked for it.
Relationships within the family would also change. Patients have often felt pressure to ‘get out of the way’ and ‘not be a nuisance to the living’. This comes about as we lose that precious sense that the Psalmist had: ‘My times are in Your hands’ (Ps.31:15a).

4. We are all fallible.
Doctors are fallible, patients are fallible, family and friends are fallible. Everybody who has lived any length of time on this planet realises this. As a pastor, I have dealt with unexpected deaths and unexpected lives. The best medical advice may be given, in all sincerity and good will, that a patient would not be long for this world, and that has been accurate more often than not. Yet there are always a significant number of cases where that proved not to be the case, and the patient survived. It has not always been that the patient was wrong and the medical practitioner correct. Either can be wrong.

This means that we must maintain a view of life and death which takes account of our likelihood to get things wrong. With many jobs, corrections can be made, and so begins another attempt, but with euthanasia and/or assisted suicide, there is no second chance. The deed is done, and is final.

Euthanasia denies God the Creator, and opens up one door after another, all of which lead to death.

Peter Barnes