Death with Dignity

Oregon was in the national news recently because of Brittany Maynard. Maynard moved to Oregon to take advantage of our assisted suicide law (Death with Dignity Act) that allows doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medicine to a person in order to assist him in committing suicide.

These are the same doctors who have sworn to protect life, or at least they used to until 1964 when this statement was removed from the Hippocratic Oath: “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.” Still, doctors today swear by these words: “Above all, I must not play at God.” How, then, can these doctors agree to assist someone in suicide? Did they mentally cross their fingers while taking the oath?

Doctors who play god, despite their oath to the contrary, want us to believe that they know how an individual will feel and act in the future, that they have the certain knowledge of how long someone has left to live. They do not even know how long they have left on earth or what tomorrow will bring for themselves or for anybody else.

It's only natural, then, that assisted suicide becomes the answer, and they beautify it with fancy words like: “death with dignity,” “hastening of death,” and “the right to die.” There is no dignity in death. That is an oxymoron. There is not a “right” to die. Rights are given to people; death is not given, but is certain. Everybody gets it whether they want it or not. Hastening of death is nothing but suicide in a fancy wrapper.

Maynard told People magazine, “For people to argue against this choice for sick people really seems evil to me.” It might seem evil, but the other option—assisted suicide—is what is evil. Life comes from God. Death comes from Satan. With Maynard, Satan claimed another life, with the national news perpetrating it as a humanitarian act of kindness.

When Dundee mom Jennifer Huston killed herself in August of this year, her family did not think it was a act of dignity. Family said, “We don't know what lead Jennifer to this dark place and to this end.” They did not seem to think her action was “dignified” or that she should have the right to die. Although the act was the same as Maynard's—she also used pills to kill herself—Huston's family considered her action as nothing more than suicide.

Choosing death over life is nothing more than a human's attempt to play God. When desperation, pain, angst, hunger, fear, agony, discomfort, sadness, grief, or suffering are present in life, people want to manage it or eliminate it. Being unable to do so, many refuse to admit defeat or acknowledge that a higher power controls their life.

Maynard's own lack of belief in God might be revealed in her very last words: “Goodbye, world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!" This is all she had; this is all she knew. You can almost feel her desperation when, at the last minute, she seemed to change her mind about committing suicide and said: “I still feel good enough and I still have enough joy and I still laugh and smile with my family and friends enough that it doesn't seem like the right time right now."

As Christians, we can have joy and peace and hope in the midst of difficult circumstances. Our example is Jesus who “endured such opposition from sinners” so that we will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:3). Because of Jesus, as Peter reminds us, we have everything we need for a godly life and our future is certain: “You will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Our future is eternal not temporal, and our joy is sealed up in that fact.

Satan might touch our earthly body as he did with Job, but we can say: “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another” (Job 19:25-27). We do not need to kill ourselves in desperation. We have hope. We have joy. We have God.

written by Mihai Bascuti