In the United States, 341 Oregon residents used that state's Death with Dignity law to have an assisted suicide death in the laws first ten years of existance according to Oregon's state website.
A news article at London-based Religious Intelligence notes changing views in England where a recent poll in The Times showed 74 per cent those surveyed want to permit doctors to assist terminally ill people in ending their own lives. England's Royal College of Nursing also changed its official position in opposition to assisted suicide to take on an officially ‘neutral position.’
The Religious Intelligence article states,
Two principles are likely to sway the debate. On the one side there is the sanctity of human life and the fear that if assisted suicide is permitted under certain clearly defined circumstances we will find ourselves on a slippery slope leading to a situation where old and vulnerable people who sense that they have become a burden to others will feel obliged to put an end to their lives. It is not hard to see a precedent in the way reform of the abortion law led to abortion on demand.I believe that our lives are in God's hands and that we are called to be faithful unto death, even inthe midst of great suffering. That is not easy to ask of others, and yet I see no Christian basis for supporting euthanasia. All I see is the slippery slope of what would follow from making assisted suicide legal.
On the other side is the great modern creed of human autonomy. Individuals, it is argued, have the right to self-determination and this must include the right to take away their own life. We live in a society that emphasises freedom of choice. It is not surprising that doctors should be criticised for showing ‘therapeutic zeal’ and ignoring the wishes of their patients in battling against death.
One of the difficulties Christians face in the debate is how to put forward their own point of view in such a way that will appeal to fellow citizens who do not share their faith. Professor Nigel Biggar has provided an excellent discussion from a Christian perspective in his book Aiming to Kill. There he suggests that the value of human life lies not in the freedom to decide value but ‘in the freedom to acknowledge and decide the value that is given by God’....
Euthanasia and assisted suicide become acceptable when people fail to see any objective value in human life and assume it has only the worth we choose to assign it. Without belief in God, it is difficult to see how anyone can give objective value to human life.
That's my take. What's yours?
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
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