The euthanasia debate exists because real people suffer real pain. And so, what is a Christian response that is compassionate to people’s pain and compassionate to the whole of society?
Euthanasia is when a medical practitioner intentionally ends the life of a person, at that person’s voluntary and competent request, for reasons of compassion. We must be clear that it is not increasing morphine to relieve pain. It is not turning off life-support. It is not choosing to not undergo treatment. It is not palliative care. None of these have the intention of killing the patient. Euthanasia is a deliberate step to kill someone.
Our laws in Australia already allow effective pain relief using palliative care. There are very few people who suffer untreatable pain.
The problem with changing the law is that it will leave our most vulnerable and weak unprotected.
Firstly, it makes our sick, elderly, disabled, chronically ill and dying feel like they are a burden; if euthanasia was legal they would be faced with a choice and may feel selfish or a burden if they don’t choose death.
Secondly, the trust in the patient-doctor relationship would be undermined. We would be asking our doctors to be killers rather than protectors of life.
Thirdly, what message would legalising euthanasia send to people contemplating suicide? If euthanasia was a good and compassionate option then all efforts of suicide prevention would be undermined.
Fourthly, palliative care funding, education, and research would be at risk.
None of these problems are religious, and so ignore people (like Andrew Denton) who say religious groups ought to stay out of the debate and mind their own business. Of course, human beings made in the image of God for loving relationships does gives more Biblical reasons to say no to euthanasia!
None of these problems are scare-mongering or slippery-slope arguments, we just have to look at where euthanasia is already legalised to see these problems occurring.
As Christians, let’s acknowledge the real pain but look for solutions that are compassionate for all involved, like palliative care.
In Christ, Tory.
For further thought:
Centre for Christian Living: https://ccl.moore.edu.au/2015/01/01/listen-euthanasia/
Australian Christian Lobby: https://www.acl.org.au/
Martin Isles (ACL) on darkness from legalising euthanasia: https://www.acl.org.au/euthanasia_s_dark_side
Sydney Dioceses Social Issues Committee: http://socialissues.org.au/euthanasia
Palliative Care Australia: https://palliativecare.org.au/
See the risks with euthanasia law where it is legal (Oregon, USA): dredf.org/…/HendinFoley_MichiganLawReview.pdf
A non-religious argument against euthanasia: https://www.smh.com.au/opinion/paul-keating-voluntary-euthanasia-is-a-threshold-moment-for-australia-and-one-we-should-not-cross-20171019-gz412h.html