Evil often masquerades as good. There is no more fitting example of this than the righteous façade of the “right to die” movement. The organizers of this movement sound so caring and compassionate that many people find themselves unwittingly supporting the concept without comprehending its consequences. They do not realize, or perhaps refuse to acknowledge, the effect of legitimized suicide on society.
The crux of the “right to die” discussion is not whether any person has the right to end his/her life. The real argument is about whether our government will sanction the killing of one person by another person. The “right-to-die” followers never speak of the issue in these terms because it is so much easier to sell the idea of “death with dignity” or not “forcing” a person to live in pain. In this day of rights for everything, the right to be killed by the physician of your choice seems to be the latest in an ever growing list.
The fact is, people can kill themselves any time they want to. No government on earth can prevent its citizens from killing themselves. From drug overdoses to carbon monoxide poisoning, there are dozens of ways people end their lives. What the right-to-die advocates are really after is the legitimization of suicide. By making an activity legal, it quickly becomes legitimate in the eyes of many. Euthanasia advocates ultimately wish to use the government to sanction and promote assisted suicide. Modern examples of the speed with which legitimization takes place can be found in both the abortion “rights” and homosexual “rights” movement. Who would have believed that only a few decades after legalizing abortion, over 35 MILLION babies would be disposed of before birth?
The inevitable result of a society which accepts assisted suicide as a social norm will be the subtle (and later not so subtle) pressure on older Americans to allow themselves to be killed. Assisted suicide laws start with many limitations but history has shown the limitations are soon ignored. As the massive group of baby boomers head toward retirement, the pressure on older Americans to commit suicide will mushroom. By pushing to legalize murder and make the act easier, we are creating our own hell on earth. Rather than speculating on the cultural effect of legalizing doctor-assisted suicide, a look at the Dutch system which has allowed the practice for years should be enough to chill the effort in other countries. The disposal of people is so common in Holland that many elderly are afraid to drink their orange juice in hospitals for fear they may be “helped along” in their deaths. As many as 25% of all deaths in that country are now assisted.1
Few deaths are without pain or discomfort. As our bodies wear out, discomfort is inevitable. One person’s unbearable pain is another person’s testimony to character. I have witnessed the painful and slow death of loved ones. Had those individuals been pressured to opt for the easy way out, hundreds of others would have missed living testimonies of courage and faith. Death with dignity is trusting your Creator rather than pretending that you don’t have one.
We live in an age where there are more drugs for pain suppression than at any other time in history, yet we are on the verge of legalizing murder as the compassionate solution to stopping pain! Death is a door through which each of us must pass. Let us leave the handle of that door in the hand of Jesus, who knows what we have left to accomplish for Him on this side of the door.
1. Rita Marker, The international Anti-euthanasia Task Force, from an interview with James Dobson broadcast on the Focus on the Family radio program, Oct. 1991.