One of the most challenging issues today is the question of how to die. Thanks to medical advancements, a person with a terminal illness can be kept alive for a very long time with no quality of life. This has resulted in a worldwide push for the adoption of euthanasia. In 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that criminalizing euthanasia violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In 2016, the Canadian Parliament passed Bill C-14, the Medical Assistance In Dying or MAID law.
In 2021, the Canadian Parliament passed a more expansive MAID law called C-7, allowing mental disorders to be sufficient grounds for euthanasia. That year, euthanasia became Canada’s sixth leading cause of death, with 10,064 deaths reported. The expanded MAID law allows people who are nowhere near death to be euthanized. Anyone experiencing dependence or feeling that their life lacks dignity is a fit candidate for euthanasia under C-7. Having to wear diapers or drooling could potentially qualify a person. In addition, persons with disabilities who can’t afford housing that would meet their needs are being euthanized.
One of the main problems with legalizing euthanasia is the “slippery slope” it creates. That is already becoming evident in Canada. The Quebec College of Physicians recently called for parents to be allowed to euthanize infants younger than one year. Nevertheless, various churches in Canada have not opposed MAID. The United Church, Canada’s largest Protestant denomination, released a statement saying, “we are not opposed in principle to the legislation allowing assistance in dying.” The Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada have supported MAID.
Evangelical, Pentecostal, Anabaptist, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox Church leaders, along with Jews and Muslims, have opposed MAID. Also, various disability organizations, such as the Canadian Council on Disabilities, have been vocal against the euthanasia issue.
The Canadian experiment with the MAID law should alert us that euthanasia is not the answer to what to do with the disabled or those in extreme pain. Instead, in our day of medical advances, the emphasis should be on combatting pain and allowing people with disabilities to live productive, dignified lives. Just as Jesus ministered to the poor and disadvantaged, so should we.
In 2016, when Mike Pence was governor, the state of Indiana passed a law requiring “the burial or cremation of any fetus.” The question at hand is should we treat an aborted fetus as a deceased person? Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against the state, which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Finally, in 2019, the court ruled that Indiana law had a legitimate interest in disposing of fetal remains.
In 2020, a group of women who had abortions in Indiana, along with abortion providers and an abortion clinic, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. They said that the requirements caused abortion and miscarriage patients “shame, stigma, anguish, and anger” because they “send the unmistakable message that someone who has had an abortion or miscarriage is responsible for the death of a person.”
In September of 2022, U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young ruled that the law violated the U.S. Constitution because it infringes upon the religious and free speech rights of people who don’t believe that aborted fetuses have any rights.
Whether we should treat an aborted fetus as a deceased person highlights the real issue in the abortion question. That is, whether or not a baby is a human before birth. Those who argue for abortion do not have scientific support for their position. The unborn child is not “an extension of the mother’s body.” Every medical attempt to define when a baby is a human fails because of the criteria used. Using brain waves, the ability to live outside the womb, the heartbeat, or when the fetus responds to outside stimuli are all arbitrary and change as technology advances.
In today’s world, having an abortion is safer than natural childbirth. The number of women who die in childbirth worldwide is vast, and even in the United States, there is a risk in giving birth. When you look at the arguments for abortion, consider how they can be applied to euthanasia for a person with age or mental issues. Some people want to use similar arguments to eliminate the cost and personal inconvenience of people at the other end of life’s journey. Ethics proponents like Dr. Peter Singer use them to justify euthanizing the mentally ill and the severely physically disabled.
Should we treat an aborted fetus as a deceased person? As our civilization embraces atheism, naturalism, and humanism, will it embrace a 100% materialistic view of human value? The recent ruling in Indiana seems to indicate that is the case.
One of the significant challenges of living in the present age is knowing how to die. That may sound crazy, but it really is a problem. Thanks to medical advancements, people who would have died quickly and perhaps even died in their sleep are now kept alive by machines, drugs, and demands for their organs. Unfortunately, in some cases, this has caused enormous pain.
Knowing how to die has also created a whole industry ranging from medical practitioners to organizations that major in helping people die. Compassion and Choices, Zero Population Growth, and various hospice programs are involved in this issue and have publications promoting their services. Switzerland and Holland have made assisted suicide legal, and France is struggling with the problem. Some states in the U.S. have legalized doctor-assisted suicide, and other state legislatures are wrestling with the concept.
There are many challenging issues in this question. In 1 Corinthians 3:16, Paul wrote, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him; for the temple of God is holy and you are the temple of God.” Also, in that book, in chapter 6, verses 15-20, Paul condemns prostitution for the same reason.
The human body as a special creation of God is described beautifully in Psalms 139:14. Genesis 1:26-27 tells us that we are created in the image of God, referring to our spiritual makeup and not our physical bodies. However, the vehicle God created and in which His Spirit dwells is a wonderful creation we must protect. This principle prohibits suicide when the body can continue functioning if left alone. But if the body is dying and only medical intervention keeps it alive, that is certainly not the same as natural death.
When people know they are about to die, they have many things to do. Taking care of their possessions, repairing relationships, and making provisions for the next stage of existence are all essential. What we neglect to a great degree is the one thing we all fear the most–pain. In this day of medical advancement, we should be able to control pain in the physical body. Restricting the use of drugs to relieve pain in a dying person is cruel and flies in the face of what God has told us.
Proverbs 31:4-7 makes it clear that the “strong drink” of that day was not for Kings because it would pervert their judgment. Instead, it should be “for him that is ready to perish … let him drink and remember his misery no more.” God determines when a person dies, but we can address the pain involved and leave the difficult question of knowing how to die to the Lord.
The media have recently reported on several life issues from beginning to end. Here are some examples: The German Euthanasia Association has announced that those seeking euthanasia must produce proof of COVID vaccination to legally end their lives. This is apparently to protect healthcare workers.
In Poland, the government has passed a law requiring doctors to report all pregnancies and miscarriages to a government database. The apparent reason for this is to make sure that all pregnancies end with a birth. Unfortunately, Poland has a shortage of workers, and this seems to be the government’s solution to the issue.
Research has shown that women who use marijuana during pregnancy are more than twice as likely to have aggressive, hyperactive children with heart rate and immunity issues.
Babies have a fragrance that comes from an organic compound called hexadecanal. It is found in human skin but is abundant in a baby’s scalp. Research shows that females exposed to the fragrance become more aggressive and strong defenders of their babies. On the other hand, men exposed to it become more gentle and speak with softer voices. Evolutionists claim that this is an evolutionary survival mechanism. We would suggest this is part of God’s design of the human reproductive system.
Research on adopted children shows that some traits are common to adopted children that do not commonly appear in children who are not adopted. In the nine months of pregnancy, there is a “primal bonding that happens by biological design.” Those of us with adopted children can attest to some behavior issues that may be related to the adoption process.
God gave us the ideal arrangement for family–one man and one woman in love with each other produce children they love and care for. Unfortunately, that arrangement is not always possible. Understanding the stress and feelings involved can go a long way toward making adoption a good experience.
As we examine life issues from beginning to end, we know that every child needs a loving family, and every senior adult needs someone who loves them.
One of the facts of life is that eventually, we will all die. Many of us have seen people endure enormous pain over a long period before death finally came. I am thankful that my wife Phyllis and my son Tim did not go through months of intense pain before passing on. Medical science has made great progress in extending life but has not been as effective in relieving pain. That is part of the reason we have seen a movement for legalizing physician-assisted death.
New Jersey passed a “Medical Aid-in-Dying” law two years ago, and last year 33 terminally ill people in the state ended their lives. Since 2016, California has had “The End of Life Option Act.” New York has a “Good Death” Act moving through the legislative process. The movement to legalize physician-assisted death is not confined to America. Holland was perhaps the pioneer of physician-assisted death in Europe. Columbia became the leader in South America back in 1997. The “Colombian Pain Institute” administers euthanasia for “intense physical or mental suffering due to an injury or incurable illness.”
The Week magazine for October 22, 2021 (page 8) carried a report demonstrating the difficulty of legalizing physician-assisted death. In Colombia, a 51-year-old woman named Martha Sepulveda has ALS and was scheduled to be euthanized. She would be the first person in Colombia to receive physician-assisted death without a terminal prognosis. However, the Colombian Pain Institute concluded that “her condition had improved” so she is no longer qualified for the procedure. Now she has a lawyer fighting for her right to die because she “is not willing to continue to live.”
Christians have concerns in this matter. In 1 Corinthians 3:16, we read that our body is “the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in us.” The next verse tells us not to defile the temple. This concept is continued in 1 Corinthians 6:15-20, which teaches why a Christian should not be involved in prostitution. In ancient times, death came more quickly than in today’s world with modern medicines. Therefore, a person near death today deserves special attention and Christian compassion. In Proverbs 31:6-7, we read, “Give strong drink to those who are ready to perish, and wine to those who are of heavy hearts.” When David was near death, he was chilled, and a woman came to warm him not for sexual purposes but to relieve his discomfort. (See 1 Kings 1: 1-4).
The doctors I know are horrified at the prospect of deciding to end someone’s life. It is hard to assess the collateral damage of someone saying, “I choose to die rather than blessing others, especially my family.” In many cases, financial concerns are a significant motivation for ending life, and there are horror stories of involuntary euthanasia in Holland. Christians should lead the charge to develop medical steps to relieve suffering and pain. Financial problems should not be an issue in a wealthy country like the United States.
From an atheist’s viewpoint, death is the end, and physician-assisted death is merely the solution to suffering. However, I continue to be reminded of my son’s last words to me before he died. He said, “Dad, I am going to see Mom, and I will actually be able to see her and be with Jesus.” These words were from a blind, mentally challenged, COVID-ravaged young man who had battled muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and schizophrenia all of his life. He was ready to move on to something better.
We have had several personal experiences with a person approaching death that brought up the issue of assistance in dying. One of the cases in our family involved a loved one dying in an Asian country. The belief in that country was that life is all there is, so a person should be kept alive at all costs, no matter what. Our loved one was in enormous pain and begging to die, but his Asian wife refused to allow him to receive any drug that might shorten his life. Drugs such as morphine can relieve pain, but they can also shorten life, so she did not allow those drugs.
There is also a medical treatment called palliative sedation, which renders a person unconscious until they die. In the United States, hospice offers palliative care but does not hasten death. Individuals can use VSED, which is “voluntary stopping of eating and drinking.” The decision is difficult, and when the person loses consciousness, family members can override it.
Ten states and the District of Columbia now allow medical assistance in dying. Doctors in those states can prescribe a lethal dose of a drug if requested by the patient or their power of attorney. The states are Oregon, Washington, California, Montana, Vermont, Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maine, and New Mexico.
Several of our church friends have faced the issue of assistance in dying. Our current issue is our son Tim who is mentally incapable of deciding for himself and is in a pathetic condition. COVID-19 has activated his cerebral palsy complications and especially his muscular dystrophy, so he is bedfast and barely able to communicate. He is making no visible progress, and because of blindness, he has very little quality of life. I read to him daily over the phone. He can only eat pureed food because he can’t chew and swallow hard foods. He is cut off from friends or family because it is virtually impossible to understand his speech.
What do you do in a case like my son Tim? He is a physically strong person, so he may remain in this state for a very long time. Having a doctor inject him with a lethal dose of drugs might seem to be the merciful thing to do, but that is pure euthanasia and assumes he will never make any recovery. Who has that kind of knowledge?
We share this with you to underline the issue of assistance in dying. As our population ages and as medical care advances, this issue will only get more complex. Join us in praying that God will lead us to know how to deal with this new problem facing humanity, which is especially difficult for believers in God.
One of the most challenging decisions for a woman to make is what to do with an unwanted pregnancy. The difficulty of this decision is evident from the “no show rate” for abortion appointments, which can be as high as 75%. Tragically, the abortion industry has become taxpayer-supported.
Planned Parenthood has released numbers in a report for the years 2017-2018. That organization operated 590 locations and performed 332,757 abortions. Their total income for the year was 1.67 billion dollars, of which $563.8 million was in tax money. Because it is a business, Planned Parenthood has to produce an increasing number of abortions or run out of money and have to close. Since 1995, 37% of Planned Parenthood locations have closed, and many of them closed for financial reasons.
By their own data, 96% of “pregnancy resolution services” are completed with abortions without regard for the mental and emotional issues of the women involved. They report only one adoption referral for every 117 abortions. Those numbers tell us that Planned Parenthood is not a service-oriented organization but an industry that must create a market to secure income. We have reported on data about abortion clinics selling baby parts as a source of income for this industry.
The abortion industry has been involved in lobbying politicians to approve their activities and fund them. We now have a president and vice president who approve of abortion and funding organizations like Planned Parenthood. Because of the sensitivity of this issue, it is difficult to get politicians to deal with the facts. The reality is that our political system is now endorsing infanticide. Attempts to defend abortion by claiming the fetus is an extension of the mother’s body do not have scientific support. Morning sickness is because the woman’s body recognizes that the baby is not a part of her body, and her immune system reacts to it. Genetically, the baby is 100% human when the sperm fertilizes the egg.
Educating the public about the facts of the abortion industry and providing alternatives to abortion remains the best that we can do. Our society has now endorsed infanticide, and involuntary euthanasia is the next step in getting rid of inconvenient humans. Scholars like Peter Singer, the Ira W, DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, call for euthanizing the physically disabled and mentally ill. The question is whether this is the kind of world we want to live in and leave to our children?
An organization that has been gaining a great deal of support by promoting medical aid in death is called Compassion and Choices. It has been instrumental in getting state legislators to consider end-of-life options, including hospice and medical assistance in dying. This is an emotional issue that virtually all of us have faced, are facing, or will face in the future. If someone is in the final stages of dying from an incurable illness, what would God have us do?
Compassion and Choices’ promoters make a strong case that it is cruel to make a loved one face their last hours alone. They say nobody should be allowed to remain in great pain while their loved ones are also in agony listening to them scream in a nearby room.
The Bible is not silent on this subject. Proverbs 31:6-7 says, “Give strong drink to the dying and wine to those who are in misery. Let him drink and forget his misfortune.” It has always interested me that when Jesus was crucified, his executioners offered him “wine mixed with myrrh” (Mark 15:23). Myrrh was a pain-killing drug, and He refused it. It is clear from the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 9:12 that He didn’t oppose physicians or the medical practices of the day. However, the pain of Jesus dying for our sins could not be diluted by using human pain-killers to reduce His sacrifice.
There is a difference between offering pain killers, counseling, support, and loving care to the dying and outright killing them prematurely. We have the capacity to make natural death quiet, dignified, compassionate, and of value without forcing our will upon God’s will. I have seen too many cases where a dying person used that moment to cement their relationship with others and with God. I have also seen a dying person bring comfort, support, and blessing to others. So-called mercy killing would not have allowed those things.
Jesus had a purpose in rejecting the myrrh. But for the rest of us, the medical establishment must provide palliative care. Compassion and choices should not mean that we deal with the crisis of the moment by using our technological ability to end life.
In our March 16, 2020, post, we discussed the issue of suicide, and the Federal Communication Commission’s efforts to create a suicide hotline. We discussed the problem of assisted suicide or euthanasia in our February 24 and 25 posts. The March 20 issue of The Week magazine carried an article (page 11) titled “The Spread of Assisted Suicide.”
In addition to the data showing how much assisted suicide has increased, the article in The Week points out that assisted suicide is now available to people for various reasons. It is being made available to those who are in psychological pain, those who don’t want to go into a nursing home, and to minors with their parent’s permission. This is a significant problem with large numbers of people involved. In the Netherlands alone, there were 6585 assisted deaths in 2017.
Our biggest concern in this growing trend is the misinformation that the public is receiving. Dignitas, which is a Swiss organization assisting in suicides, says that assisted suicide is “far preferable to letting ill people make a lonely, risky suicide attempt.” Those are not the only choices available to a person who is depressed, in pain, or fearing dementia.
As life expectancy continues to climb, more and more people will struggle with emotional and physical pain. Our focus needs to be on solving those issues, not just in finding ways to destroy the “temple of God” (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Yesterday we discussed the push for euthanasia in secular society.We have received a massive reaction to the euthanasia article. Several people have asked what states in the U.S. allow assisted suicide. In addition to Washington, D.C., those states are California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
We received information about Professor Theo Boer, a Dutch ethicist who was a major supporter of the Netherlands’ 2002 Euthanasia legislation. Boer wrote to the British House of Lords in 2014, “We were wrong, terribly wrong. Assisted dying in the beginning was the odd exception, accepted by many including myself as a last resort.” He pointed out that what happened was that many patients who received euthanasia were patients who were depressed, lonely, or in bereavement. In Switzerland a woman paid to be euthanized because she no longer felt pretty. He concludes by saying, “Public opinion has shifted dramatically toward considering assisted dying a patient’s right and a physician’s duty.”
In Oregon, physician-assisted suicide was legalized in 1997 “for cases of suffering from terminal disease.” In 2018 a followup study found that 75% of the people who died by assisted suicide said their pain control was adequate, but over 50% were concerned about being a burden to their families.
We also received a story of Karen Welch, who was a missionary in Belgium. During a routine surgery, blood was cut off to her brain resulting in a stroke. After several days, doctors told her husband that her MRI showed dead brain cells and that there was no hope for her recovery. “Your wife will be a vegetable,” Mr. Welch was told. The medical establishment recommended euthanasia. To make a long story short, Karen Welch eventually walked out of the hospital, and that December, she played the piano and sang at the Belgium School Chapel Christmas program.
As we said in our original article, euthanasia is a highly complex issue. The reaction to the euthanasia article we posted indicates that people are concerned about the issue. Until you are involved in a personal situation where euthanasia is offered as a simple and inexpensive solution, it is easy to give simplistic answers. The critical thing to remember is that humans are not just animals. We are created in the image of God, so we must treat every human life as special.