[Rector]

Euthanasia

 

The issue of Euthanasia is certainly a difficult one. There is a sense where we want to give the individual the right to shorten their life where their existence is no longer bearable. Yet on the other hand, we recognize the dangers inherent in softening our view on the sanctity of life. It would be very easy for a government authority to extend voluntary euthanasia to the removal of citizens who are no longer useful to society due to age or infirmity.

It was once held that suicide affected a person's eternal salvation. Few hold that view today. The Bible certainly doesn't not support such a point of view. Nor is it really possible to argue from the Bible that humans do not have the right to increase or decrease the length of life through medical intervention. Yet, euthanasia itself does have wide social ramifications. A recent report by a Church Council had this to say on the issue:

The practice of euthanasia as the intentional killing of one person by another, can never be regarded as the compassionate answer to the burdens which may be suffered by a dying patient. It is not a private matter since it always has serious implications for all members of society. Evidence from Holland, where voluntary euthanasia is permitted under strict conditions, shows that it is quickly followed by non voluntary euthanasia.

Christian teaching affirms the value of each individual, made in the image of God. Our lives are a gift from God. Neither our own life nor the lives of others, are ours to take.

Giving one person the power of life and death over another strikes, not only at the heart of Christian teaching, but also at the obligation of the State to protect its citizens - particularly the weak and vulnerable. Additionally, it places an unacceptable burden on doctors.

Attempts are being made to legalize voluntary euthanasia and doctor assisted suicides. Dr. Brendan Nelson recently stated that doctors must never be "sanctioned to kill." It may, at times, be judged necessary to withdraw or withhold certain treatments because they are considered futile or unduly burdensome. This differs radically and in a morally significant way from intentional killing.

The compassionate answer is to provide the best palliative care and medical services possible for the patients and to give support and comfort to all those affected by the pain and suffering of their loved ones. Even in the midst of these the Christian hope of eternal life beyond death stands firm, giving dignity and meaning to death itself.

Although the argument above is a good one, the jury is still out on the subject.