Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Right to die

The Right to Die?: Caring Alternatives to EuthanasiaFriendly debate
I distinctly remember having a friendly argument with a seatmate on the issue of euthanasia. The debate, of course, was prompted by my question: would you choose to die if, by some freak accident, you're paralyzed from the head down?

I was against it, as I was arguing for the "sanctity of life." But I'm afraid the debate didn't resolve anything. We were still as hard-headed as when we had started and just about as clueless about the subject we had argued about.

I realized that physician-assisted suicide—or mercy killing or euthanasia—is very controversial, as most ethical cases in medicine tend to be. I wondered then what the Biblical response should be in such cases.

The right to die?
Is it consistent with God's Word and with moral standards to help someone die because the patient is complaining of too much pain? Can we actually choose when and how to die, given the fact that we have autonomy? Should families always choose to sustain the lives of their relatives in "persistent vegetative state"? The stream of questions was overflowing.

When I found the book, The Right To Die?: Caring Alternatives to Euthanasia, I immediately grabbed it. It's written by Mark Blocher, a pastor and bioethicist. The book takes on a sound Christian worldview, citing Biblical principles and examples, to explain why physician-assisted suicide can never be justified. It was, for me, an eye-opener, a book that has shattered some assumptions I might have had before.

The book argues that "there is no disgrace in human mortality, that human dignity can be cared for and respected in the midst of life's worst experiences." It also rallies for the fact that every dying person should be given these three promises:
You will not be a burden to us.
You will not die in pain.
You will not die alone.
Blocher therefore advocates for hospice or palliative care for the dying.

Outlined
The book starts out by outlining a Biblical definition of death. The second chapter deals with Jack Kevorkian and the horrors he has caused. The third deals with the abuse of language to justify assisted suicide. The chapter I liked best is the fifth chapter where Blocher answers the question on whether death is a right, a duty, or an inevitability. The next chapter deals with the issue of having natural limits on personal freedom—this time, on death. The other chapters deal with the role of physicians at the end of life. In the penultimate chapter, Blocher doesn't veer away from answering hard questions on euthanasia and medical futility.

Sound understanding
The book has been a great help to me. The perspectives are sound and Biblical, the reasoning is logical, the examples are thorough. I couldn't recommend a better book on the issue of physician-assisted suicide than this.

2 comments:

  1. http://ironsidesworldheadquarters.blogspot.com/2010/03/letter-to-editor-ottowa-citizen.html

    This is just one of many things I've written through the years, and I wanted to share it with you after coming across your blog dealing with euthanasia.

    To answer your questions about a scriptural base to consider, Jesus Christ went around healing a few people.--But he never stomped all over Israel killing Disabled People, the terminally ill or senior citizens.

    The Old Testament only gives examples for depressed people and people who are ready to die:

    Proverbs 31:6

    6 Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.

    In your medical profession, I would like to caution you to not fall into the macho big-head "know-it-all" image which prevails in Medical-Colleges.

    Take heart to a doctor who died within the past two years.--Doctor Blakey! Find what he had to say. It will set you above most of the doctors, who only want status and power.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi, Ironsides. The book actually cited the verse you wrote here. Thanks for the advice. I hope that I and my classmates would soon become doctors who would respect life and truly care for others.

    ReplyDelete

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