A Christians Duty Protecting Vulnerable People from a Duty to Die 

Euthanasia, assisted suicide, assisted dying, end of life choice… are all names for the same thing: helping to end someone’s life through a lethal dose of medication.

We hear, “if people want to die, it’s compassionate to help end their lives”… and of course we want to be compassionate.

But things are not always as they seem.  And what might be called compassionate for one – can be a dangerous thing for others.

In this video I want to examine how societal acceptance of assisted suicide and euthanasia sends two very dangerous messages:

First: A message to sick and elderly people, that maybe their lives aren’t worth living… and what some see as a right to die will for others, become a duty to die…

Second: A message to caregivers and family, that assisted dying can relieve them of their duty to care…

These are dangerous messages!

You see, currently society accepts that people who are sick, elderly or disabled need to be cared for until their natural death.  .

So why is this so wrong?

  • It becomes a duty to die

FIRSTLY: It can become a duty to die because sick and elderly people can easily believe they have become a financial and emotional burden…  and feel they need to justify to themselves, their doctors and their family WHY they are choosing to stay alive.

In the U.S. state of Oregon where assisted suicide is legal, 59% – more than half – of those who received a lethal overdose in 2019 gave as one of their reasons a “concern about being a burden”.

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59% in 2019 and 46% on average since 1998. Source: Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division. Oregon Death with Dignity Act Data Summary 2019 – Page 12.

https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/PROVIDERPARTNERRESOURCES/EVALUATIONRESEARCH/DEATHWITHDIGNITYACT/Documents/year22.pdf

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The ‘right to die’ too easily becomes a ‘duty to die’…. and therefore not a truly free choice.

2)   Abuse & Neglect Examples

SECONDLY, people could be pressured to die if they’re the victims of abuse and neglect by their family or caregiver.

One of our speakers, Brendon Malone, recorded the following story from a nurse who works in a New Zealand hospital.

Originally, she had no problem with the concept of euthanasia – but all this changed when she experienced just how common family neglect was.

She recounts:

“There was the family that stood in the corridor of a very busy ward and argued about why the individual who held power of attorney was wasting everyone’s time by requesting medical staff keep the patient alive, and that they instead needed to refuse treatment and let nature take its course otherwise, on discharge, the patient would have to go into care and that would eat into their inheritance.

What was this horrible disease that was stripping this individual of their dignity?

A chest infection, which was responding well to intravenous antibiotics.”

She goes on…

“There’s been countless family members who tell me that the patient is no longer their parent, their spouse, their sibling, that they’re dead inside, and could I please just give them more morphine to hurry things up a bit.

Then there’s the recent media attention over the practice of “granny dumping”.

This is where a family dumps their elderly relative at the emergency department so they can take off on an overseas holiday, or because they just can’t be bothered checking in on them over, say, a long weekend.”

“I have found myself comforting many elderly patients who, through heaving sobs, recount their belief that they are a burden on their families, that they’d be better off dead, that they are cutting into their family’s inheritance, or they are of no more use to anyone.”

If assisted dying were to be legalised, some people will request a lethal dose because they are being pressured or abused. No Legal safeguards and guidelines can protect against this.

Claim of right to personal autonomy

The right to personal autonomy has its limits.  The claim “It’s my body, surely I have a right to choose when I die!” is terribly short-sighted.

The right to personal autonomy doesn’t apply to drink driving – because it’s not only YOU who’s put at risk if you drink and drive.

Likewise – it also shouldn’t apply to assisted dying. Because it’s not only YOU who’s put at risk when society approves it.

True compassion is for the vulnerable

Giving a small number of people the power to prematurely end their life endangers the safety of thousands more.

The so-called right to die for a small group can easily become a duty to die for more… Sick, elderly, disabled, depressed or lonely people… those who are most vulnerable in our society…

We have a duty… to CARE for those most in need of TRUE compassion.

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