“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Dignifying suicide

Canada’s The Ottawa Sun newspaper is in the throes of publishing a series of articles about euthanasia and assisted suicide. They interviewed a wide array of people on both sides of the issue. I was one interviewed by the reporter, Donna Casey.

When she called, I wondered, Why the interest in assisted suicide? A private Member’s bill in the House of Commons to legalize assisted suicide died on the floor of Parliament in 2005. Since then, Canada’s federal government has shown NO interest in re-opening debate about changing laws to allow euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Euthanasia is not a backburner issue—it’s not even on the stove! So why such interest by the Ottawa Sun to dedicate resources and space to a series of articles about an issue that’s not even in the news? It seems they are trying to be a news maker rather than just report it.

One of the people interviewed was Paul Spiers of an American disability group called Autonomy (http://www.autonomynow.org/). He’s also a darling of the Right to Die movement.

Natural fit
Spiers told the Sun reporter that Canada has a tradition of supporting and protecting human rights, therefore aid-in-dying (assisted suicide) would be a natural fit for our “socially progressive values.” Yeah, right. First of all, Canada’s tradition of protecting human rights has a huge gaping hole: Abortion.

There is no legal protection for prenatal life in Canada. Unborn children have no legal protection at any point throughout pregnancy. A woman can abort her child for any reason, or no reason at all. That’s not socially progressive, Paul, it’s socially regressive.

It should be noted that this state of affairs stands in stark contrast to public opinion. A recent Environics opinion poll showed that two-thirds of Canadian women support legal protection for unborn children. Fifty-seven percent of men support legal protection.[1]

Spiers called assisted suicide the “the last civil right.” This is an outrageous thing to say! Suicide (assisted or otherwise) is not a civil right. Such perverted thinking must be utterly rejected.
Death as a right
In June of 1997, the US Supreme Court was ruling about whether states have the right to ban assisted suicide. In a unanimous ruling the high court ruled that they do. Chief Justice William Rehnquist said,

"An examination of our Nation's history, legal traditions, and practices demonstrate that Anglo-American common law has punished or otherwise disapproved of assisting suicide for over 700 years;"

Assisted suicide may indeed be a natural fit for Canada of the 21st century, but it must be resisted. Opinion polls (the latest being June 2007 by Ipsos-Reid) consistently show more than 70% of Canadians support assisted suicide of the terminally ill.[2] Of course, it never stays there. It will also include the chronically ill, the profoundly handicapped, and the disabled.

There is no right to die. Death is an eventuality, it is inevitable. Death will visit us all. Death needs no protection -- life does. Death can not be taken away, but life can be taken away.

Never dignify suicide (assisted or otherwise) by talking about it as a “civil right.”
We do not dignify death by killing the dying or disabled. Dignity is not found in poison, starvation or dying of thirst. Death with dignity is the natural conclusion to having lived with dignity. Give a man life with dignity and he will die with dignity. Dying with dignity is a process not an event.
Saint Augustine said, "[A]nyone who kills a human being, himself or another, is guilty of murder.”[3]

Never let clever arguments seduce you to believe evils are good. Suicide (assisted or otherwise) is not a civil right. It is evil and must always be rejected by civilized people and never supported by law or by people of good will.
All suicide must be adamantly opposed by Christians who love God’s laws. We are commanded to be salt and light to this present dark age.
Mark Pickup
[1] According to the Environics poll, more than one-third (34%) of women support legal protection from conception onward, 21% after three months of pregnancy and 12% say babies should be protected after six months. Overall, 62% of Canadians supported legal protection at some point before birth.

The Focus Canada poll of 2,047 Canadians was conducted between September 17 and October 14, with a margin of error of ±2.2% nineteen times out of twenty.

[2] Juliet O’Neill, Most Canadians support assisted suicide, polls show, Canwest News Service, June 10 2007 (http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=d8946345-be11-462e-8227-d96681b7d2ef&k=35092)
[3] City of God, Book One, chapter21

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