If suicide is wrong, how can euthanasia ever be right?
Last week, a bill establishing a “federal framework for suicide prevention” passed in the House of Commons by a vote of 285 to three. This bill would require that the Canadian government spread greater suicide awareness, make data on suicide and its risk factors available to the public, and promote the use of research studies in treating and preventing suicidal behavior.
My question to you today: if the government of Canada acknowledges that suicide is wrong and must be prevented, how can euthanasia ever be right?
I am glad to hear about Bill C-300, and I hope that greater measures to help people with suicidal tendencies and educate society about suicidal behavior will be underway. Canada is already losing 3,600 lives a year to suicide- we cannot afford to lose more here in Quebec by legalizing euthanasia. I am fusing the discussion of suicide and euthanasia because they are essentially the same thing. Both suicide and euthanasia involve the individual’s “choice”; in both cases, the individual wants to terminate his or her life due to some dire circumstance; and the end result of both actions is the irreversible death of an individual.
Now, I wish to ask a question to euthanasia advocates: At which point, and after how much suffering, should a person be assisted in taking their own life? Furthermore, how do we cut the line between mental and physical suffering? Derek Humphry, author of the book “Final Exit” and promoter of euthanasia, admits the following: “I believe that assisted suicide for the mentally troubled will eventually be available in perhaps 50 years when we know more about the human mind, and when society has a more enlightened view on choices in dying in general.” Yet, Humphry’s statement is contradictory with his own views, for he emphasizes that he refuses to support assisted suicide for the mentally troubled on the grounds that poor mental health can be treated and most people would not be comfortable helping a mentally-ill person kill themselves (for a complete list of Humphry’s 9 arguments against euthanasia for the mentally ill, click here).
Let me stop here and tell you a little anecdote:
The other day, I saw something crazy…there was a couple fighting at a metro station, and at one point the man (who was on the opposite side of the tracks as the woman) went down the stairs to place himself on top of the railway lines. I was in panic when I saw that- my heart started racing at the possibility that a train would come any moment, but my first reaction was to call for help- a security personnel, the police, or someone who would protect this man from killing himself. I realized that if he didn’t move I would have to go get him myself. Thank God this man picked himself up and returned to the platform before the train arrived! I still don’t know what I would have done otherwise.
This reaction resembles the way we should respond to someone who seeks to accelerate his own death, whether assisted by a physician or not. Many of us will one day or another face very difficult situations – at such times, we can be led to believe that our life has no value, that things can only get worse…but if everyone feeling hopeless or depressed is given the “right” to physician-assisted suicide, what will our society turn into? Part of being human means accepting weakness, sadness, and fear as we confront the uncertainty of the future. It is through solidarity with others that we are able to deal with these difficult conditions and gather the strength to face them.
Euthanasia would enable a ‘system’ for eliminating pain- something that sounds good on the surface, but is totally unsustainable in reality. All of us, at some point, will have to face death. We can hope and pray for a peaceful and painless death- but we are not guaranteed that. Now, as we approach death or are made victims of mental or physical disease, it is normal to want to give up- but God wants us to hold on and understand that if he has kept us alive and breathing it is for a good reason. In friendship and communication with others, we can discover that reason for living, that motive to hold on and heal from suffering. I would like you to pause for a moment and think to yourself: what makes a life “meaningful”? What brings us happiness? I am young, but from what I’ve experienced so far, part of the beauty of life comes from persevering amidst difficulty. Some of my greatest moments of joy have been tending my hand to someone right when they need it. When someone thanks you for being there for them in the times they had most difficulty, cherish that moment, for it means you are following in Christ’s footsteps.
Let us all remember that God determines life and death….we do not have the power to create life, and we do not have the permission to cause someone’s death (if only everyone could understand this when it comes to abortion too!) We are living in a society that gradually seeks to eliminate all suffering, pain, and responsibility. Do we want to become part of a society that sees life as a nuisance and burden rather than a gift? I read an interesting article today that shared the following small piece of insight from a book by P.J. O’Rourke:
The real message of the conservative pro-life position is, as the prefix indicates, that we’re in favor of living. We consider people — with a few obvious exceptions — to be assets. Liberals consider people to be nuisances. People are always needing more government resources to feed, house, clothe them, pick up the trash after their rallies on the National Mall, and make sure their self-esteem is high enough to join community organizers lobbying for more government resources.
Euthanasia is unacceptable, most of all because we live in an age where we are constantly making medical advances and discovering new methods to help people with various physical and mental ailments. We learn more about the human mind and body everyday- amidst such progressive scientific development, how can we make the case that human life is not valuable in all circumstances, even the most difficult ones? Let us stay firm and strong in our resolution to refuse the legalization of euthanasia. With the crime of abortion already infiltrating society, our duty to defend life from conception to natural death has become even more important and urgent.
I hope to never see euthanasia legalized in Canada (or elsewhere). Meanwhile, the 40 Days for Life Vigil begins tomorrow- please remember to pray for the end of abortion throughout the Lenten Season in the hopes that Christ will soften the hearts of those promoting the unjust killing of children and other members of society.