Friday, April 7, 2017

Don't put me down for Euthanasia

Title from a  quip made by one of my siblings!

We had a good crowd of participants at the Transitional Cathedral on Saturday for the seminar on Euthanasia advertised previously here.

A full report is being worked on by the Editor of our Diocesan magazine and when that is available I will alert readers to that.

What follows here is not a "report" but some of the key comments, phrases, questions I picked up as the presentations were made. I am not attributing them as they are from my notes and to attribute them might lead to readers thinking that X said something they did not actually say. I am giving my impressions rather than my accurate citations. They are my highlighted remarks and are not a guide to the thesis of any one speaker.

How does E affect the overall well-being of society?

Wouldn't legalised E make it "a duty to die"?

Vulnerable people ARE at risk.

Doctors will be pressed to offer E as an option as a means of cutting health care costs.

One can be against people being euthanased (A puts B to death) while being for assisted suicide (B wants to die and A assists that happening).

Unbearable pain is a matter for each individual. I cannot tell you that your immense pain is bearable.

A formula (e.g. undergirding a clear, precise law change) could be terminal illness + sound mind + choice + assurance of no duress = receive assistance to die.

Danger without such a law of an unregulated sub-culture of advice re suicide. (I couldn't help thinking of analogies re justification for legal abortion, prostitution, gambling, marijuana use!)

Euthanasia alters the relationship between patient and doctor (from relationship in which doctor is present to preserve, prolong and save life to one in which doctor may enhance life or may hasten death).

Euthanasia may start well in a society but there is evidence from countries in which it is legal of it ending badly - concern for unintended consequences - voluntary euthanasia becomes involuntary euthanasia.

Does E normalise (all) suicide?

Contrasting approach: confidence that all legal safeguards around E will work.

Release of death sometimes more important than a miserable existence of unbearable suffering.

E is about the right to choose when and where to die with medical assistance.

My own closing remarks at the end of the event included these observations:

Across our panel of speakers there were real differences of views, of statistical date and of the interpretations of that data.

Every speaker presented a view which was based on care for people and each speaker respected the dignity of human persons but there were differences over what dignifies people in certain traumatic circumstances at or towards the end of life.

Talk of autonomy, of my right to choose to authorise my death is in tension with concern that society might take over my autonomy. But there is also the question of God's autonomy: what rights does God have over us? Related to this question is the question of whether we are authorised by God to ever take life or assist in taking another person's life.

Speaking only for myself, appreciative as I am of the cut and thrust of differing views well articulated, I come away from the day unconvinced that we have the right to take the life of another person outside of contexts of criminality (i.e. capital punishment) and war (i.e. in combat, according to rules of engagement). I accept that there is a grey area theologically when we talk about assisted suicide (aiding someone to take their own life as release from unbearable pain). That is, Christian arguments can be brought to this matter for consideration.

I am also appreciative of the concern about unintended consequences. Interestingly, just this morning I read about that great Western democracy (or "democracy") France moving to ban certain pro-life websites, dismissing people (according to another article I cannot now locate) who run such sites as "alt-rights and Catholics." If we permit euthanasia, 20 years from now will it be illegal to publicly voice opposition to it?


Jean said...

Hmm just caught up about France's decision. Crazy... Apparently the concept of free speech so highly valued in that part of the world has an ambiguous definition.

Also see there was an article in ChCh about residents not wanting their children exposed to prostituion in residential areas. Not on moral grounds, however, just best to keep commercial activities in commercial areas.

Maiking something legal has greater social ramifications than just meeting a genuine desire not to sit in judgement on a moral issue. It does appear that in many ways it renders the public unable to address the negative consequences, for the people involved in said actives and communities in general.

That poor editor ......

Father Ron said...

Surely, Peter, one would do one's best to prevent a loved one - or anyone for that matter - from intolerable suffering when a simple palliative would do that work. However, when there is no known relief offered, would we not - as a matter of Christian charity if the sufferer requested it - seek to honour that request. After all; who would let even a pet go through needless suffering.

The Church used to deny Christian burial to a suicide. It no longer does so! In my humble opinion - that might just be a sign of God's mercy operating in His Church. Nobody wants a 'Free-for-all' attitude to 'mercy killing'. However, openness to a dignified departure at the request of a sufferer may just be part of the Christian expectation of mercy.