- Religion and Philosophy
Is Assisted Suicide Ever An Option?
The news of Brittany Maynard's decision to avail herself of the opportunity to commit physician-assisted suicide has occupied a great deal of airtime over the last few days, both from secular as well as Christian media. Some are calling her death a dignified one since she did not suffer, she died exactly as she wanted, typing goodbye to her Facebook friends while her loved ones looked on.
Brittany suffered from a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma, an aggressive and malignant form of cancer with a median survival rate of fifteen months. Brittany's decision has been labeled "death with dignity," or "aid in dying." Not suicide or euthanasia, but one that shifts the responsibility for the person's death from the person to the doctor. In a New York Times article Should Terminally Ill Patients Be Allowed To Die On Their Own Terms, Michael Gonchar states, "Public support for assisted dying has grown in the past half-century but depends in part on terminology. In a Gallup Poll conducted in May, for example, 70 percent of respondents agreed that when patients and their families wanted it, doctors should be allowed to “end the patient’s life by some painless means... Yet in the same 2013 poll, only 51 percent supported allowing doctors to help a dying patient “commit suicide.”
Compassion and Choices
Brittany had originally planned to end her life on Nov. 1, but then changed her mind saying, “It doesn’t seem like the right time right now.” Eleven months ago, doctors had given her six months to live. She beat their deadline (no pun intended), but then decided to end her life on Nov. 2. What made her change her mind again? An article by Live Action News states, “Although cancer patients and pro-life groups have tried to talk her out of the decision, it now appears Maynard may have either been used by assisted suicide advocates to promote their agenda or may have been a part of a plan working in concert with them to attempt to legalize assisted suicide in additional states.” At present five states, New Mexico, Vermont, Montana, Washington and Oregon have passed a law permitting “a competent, terminally ill patient to choose aid in dying,” according to the NY Times article.
Live Action News continues, “The assisted suicide advocacy group Compassion and Choices created The Brittany Fund with the launch of Brittany’s first video. The group is seeking one million signatures as well as donations that will foot the bill for euthanasia lobbyists who seek to spread so-called “death with dignity” legislation across the country.”
They proved their doctor wrong
Brittany, for reasons known only to her, opted for assisted suicide rather than chemo or radiation. She was not at stage 4 when she was diagnosed in January, but only progressed to that stage later. In one forum, someone commented that she was only seeking attention, while another suggested maybe she just needed someone to say to her, “DON’T DO IT.”
We’ll never know the real reason this lovely young woman chose this route since she is no longer with us. Even now, scores of people are probably pouring money into a fund for death instead of one for life. I feel so sad about the whole thing, for Brittany, her family and the number of people who believe that assisted suicide is better than giving God a chance. The fact that Brittany had outlived the six months doctors had given her should tell us something. Doctors are often wrong. Read about Hannah McDonald, 20, who suffered a stroke and was not expected to walk or talk again. (http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/woman-20-who-proved-doctors-6260846), Emilie Gossiaux, who was not expected to live after being hit by an 18-wheeler; (http://english.kompas.com/read/2011/03/06/01025242/The.Man.Who.Proves.Doctors.Wrong) and Paul Stewart, the man who walked again. http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/finding-his-feet-how-paul-stewart-proved-doctors-wrong-and-walked-again-6732749.html.
These are just a few, but I am sure you have all heard amazing stories of recovery from people who proved their doctors wrong. The fact is, whether you believe it or not, God does have a plan and a purpose for all of us. He has the number of our days written even before we were born.
In one of the most beautiful Psalms in the Bible the Psalmist wrote,
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Some of you may dismiss this as nonsense. You have a right to your opinion, as I have mine. But these words give us hope that we do not have to wallow in darkness, because God is with us even in our darkest moments. Sickness and death have no power over the believer. "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 1 Corinthians 15: 55.
Don't Do It
As a healthcare worker, I have the greatest sympathy for patients, and their families, who are terminally ill, but as someone on the forum said, let us work together to find drugs that will lessen pain, instead of hasten death. With palliative care nowadays, most people are kept comfortable until the time comes. They do not have to suffer needlessly. Who knows what Brittany’s life could have been a year from now? Maybe she would have been one of the persons to inspire hope in others and prove her doctor wrong. So, to anyone reading this who may be contemplating suicide, assisted or otherwise, my advice is DON'T DO IT.