Around the world, from Colombia to China, from Denmark to South Africa and from New Zealand to Uruguay to Canada, euthanasia, or Physician Assisted Suicide, is now legal. In America there are a handful of states as well, with Oregon as the first one to legalize assisted suicide.

Now the state of Victoria, in Australia, is joining the list. Here’s what former Ozzie Prime Minister Tony Abbot had to say:

Only a morally mixed-up society would approve suicide when it’s doctor assisted and doctors should not be expected to forsake their vocation … this idea that we should end the lives of people who have failed our test of usefulness or who have failed our test of what constitutes a decent quality of life is absolutely dead wrong …

Advocates of assisted suicide will say that there is no slippery slope and that a patient’s consent is always assured and carefully monitored and that assisted suicide will never lead to even darker avenues of eliminating suffering in all its forms by eliminating the sufferer.

The fact is it’s far too early to tell despite Oregon’s handful of decades experience with this morbid use of science. But even if we can be sure that no one will needlessly die – which is an absurd belief to have; people are already needlessly dying as revealed by the very disturbing account from Holland of a 40-something married man with kids agreeing to euthanasia due to his depression and alcoholism – this assurance even if it were possible, does not take into account a basic fact.

When someone “assists” you in committing suicide, it’s no longer suicide, it’s murder. And the consent you give is essentially allowing someone else to take your life. It is now a very different matter, because it is no longer the case of a lone individual taking some deliberate physical action that results in their death. Someone else is intervening.

And not just someone else. The full force of the state is behind that physician administering the lethal drug. Now, physician assisted suicide advocates try to make the point that the patient “self-administers” the lethal drug. So apparently it’s no longer euthanasia. Sorry, that’s cutting it a little on the precious side. Who fills the syringe with the lethal drug? Who manufactures the lethal drug? Who transports it, stores it, assures it is of sufficient quality to do what it is designed to do? Who then brings the correct dosage to the area where the patient is to be killed? Who ensures that everything is in order before a patient – perhaps very ill and/or of advanced age – does the nominal final “administering” of the drug?

A whole process is now in place to ensure an efficient way to end a patient’s life. Much like the process to apply the death penalty to a criminal duly convicted of crimes that warrant such a penalty.

We despise pain in our post-modern society because we often don’t have the moral compass to accept and deal with pain. I have trouble even handling a headache without a little pain relief. Never mind broken ribs and weeks and weeks of every agonizing breath keeping you awake at night as in the case of Senator Rand Paul. Never mind the indescribable pain that a terminal cancer patient suffers. So if I were in their shoes, I may very well wish for a quick way out of that debilitating pain.

But by reducing pain and trying to make the world one big safe space – a futile effort even for Scandinavian countries who perhaps are the closest thing the world has to safe space on a big scale – we risk seeing human life, filled with pain and struggle, as itself being an unwanted intrusion. This of course is the view of radical ecologists and environmentalists. And we also no longer see struggle as really worth it. Too painful, too disappointing. Too dangerous. Too risky. We seem to need to reduce life to an omnipresent, suffocating array of rules and regulations to ensure that life is no longer tragic – or painful. We’re not there yet, but that’s where we’re heading.

So as we give thanks for the Puritan’s overwhelming courage in the face of severe winters and starvation and their faith in God and therefore in their own struggles; as we give thanks for the faith that underlay the genius of the founding fathers; as we give thanks for family, for mothers and fathers and sons and daughters; for friendships and for true love, how about we give thanks for life itself which we are blessed with. With all it’s imperfections and with all its pain.

Have a great Thanksgiving Weekend!

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