California State Senator Bill Monning recently announced his plan to push a bill on legalizing assisted suicide. Monning running on the recent and well known case of Brittany Maynard, a woman with terminal brain cancer who stated that she would end her life "when the time seemed right." The mantra behind those supporters of euthanasia, is that we should offer people the option to "die with dignity." On their own terms when they want. At first glance, this might seem altruistic. "I choose death so others won't have to worry about me. I'm a parasite, I can't give, I only take; therefore, I should die." But a look closer shows the push to legalize euthanasia and takes aim at the very definition of life. Who decides what life is? With Roe vs. Wade the state tried to define when life began. With euthanasia the state tries to define when it should end. History has shown that this never ends well.
In 1984, then Colorado governor, Richard Lamm, stated that elderly people who were terminally ill "have a duty to die... Like leaves which fall off a tree forming the humus in which other plants can grow, we've got a duty to die and get out of the way with all of our machines and artificial hearts, so that our kids can build a reasonable life." At the time Lamm made that statement, he received a lot of backlash and tried to find a cure for his foot-in-mouth syndrome. However, today this line of thinking is becoming more and more mainstream, as demonstrated by the high publicity of Brittany Maynard's decision to die.
First let's discuss what euthanasia is. Euthanasia is an intentional and direct act causing a patient's death. A patient decides he no longer desires to live and goes to his doctor who through various means, causes the patient's death. The question I want answered is where legalization will lead a society. When boiled down to it, the fundamental reason for implementing euthanasia is to get rid of the unwanted. The same reason for abortion. A human being is unwanted by parent/family/society so to get rid of this unwanted nuisance we kill it. Often the arguments for euthanasia sound merciful and compassionate stating that it avoids the needless suffering of individuals. But there is a slippery slope to the legalization of assisted suicide.
Let's consider this hypothetical for a moment. Euthanasia has become legal in the US by federal statute. At first, a few take advantage of this, and as it becomes more regular it becomes more accepted. It becomes expected that those with terminal illness, mental handicaps, or any other "defect" society has deemed not "normal" it becomes the thing to do with the unwanted. We kill them. At first, of course, this is voluntary, but as things progress, let us say some legislator comes up with a plan to make it mandatory, but this time it has become so accepted that the people are actually for it. So the people have been conditioned to believe that it is the duty of government to rid society of the unwanted. They bring no benefit to society so they must be exterminated. But who defines benefit? I have good friends who were diagnosed with what doctors would consider mental handicaps, physical defects that would make it hard for them to live a "normal" life. These friends of mine have touched and impacted the lives of hundreds of people for the better. Would they be considered better off dead?
One of the arguments in favor of euthanasia is that the patients will die anyways so hastening the death will avoid unnecessary suffering. But the truth is everyone will die eventually, and as we know that life often has suffering in it and when another is the cause that hastens the death, we call it homicide. Because the truth is life is something granted to man by God. It is a right of God to live not one of government. The inalienable rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness were not rights given by the government. For an individual to cause the untimely death of another is a homicide and when it is done intentionally, it is murder. The fact that the doctor has the patient's consent does not make this murder right. Adults can consent to a lot of things that are still morally wrong.
As Norman Giesler put it, "Euthanasia doesn't bring mercy to the sufferer but rather destroys the sufferer. Euthanasia doesn't uphold patient autonomy, it ends patient autonomy. It doesn't enable people to 'die with dignity' but enables them to be killed like laboratory rats." Voluntary euthanasia will lead to involuntary euthanasia, it is the duty of civilized society to care for each other not send them to their deaths because they are a burden to us. As a citizen of the state of California, I oppose Senator Monning's bill, and ask that you would join me as well.