On Sept. 11, 2015, the California State Legislature passed a bill known as the End of Life Option Act, also referred to as physician-assisted suicide, which allows doctors to prescribe medication to help patients with terminal illnesses end their lives.
There are currently five states, including Oregon, California, Vermont, Washington and Montana, that allow some form of “aid-in-dying,” a euphemism to describe this growing movement. Montana is the only state out of the five that requires a court decision.
Among the many disguises that this crusade is fronting, “death with dignity” may be the most common term used among its supporters. This bill distinctly ignores the incomparable miraculousness of human life and fails to take into account the value of every individual and his or her right to life, not the right to death.
Medicine is a practice that is purposed for healing, not murder; this bill corrupts the practice of medicine.
Ryan Anderson of the Washington Times wrote, “Allowing physicians to help patients kill themselves changes the practice of medicine and our entire culture.”
Anderson, in his article for The Heritage Foundation, said, “PAS [Physician-Assisted Suicide] threatens to fundamentally distort the doctor–patient relationship because it reduces patients’ trust of doctors and doctors’ undivided commitment to the life and health of their patients.”
The most pressing question that arises during this discussion is how has, and how will this law continue to shape the views of those in the public square of the elderly, disabled and poor in our society. This policy endangers the weak and marginalizes those who will soon feel an obligation to die in fear of being a burden on society.
“This [The End of Life Option Act] denies rather than affirms their dignity, reinforcing their fear that they are a burden,” Kenneth Magnuson wrote for Canon & Culture, a project of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “The victory of death is the defeat of dignity for those who are suffering and facing the end of life.”
Human dignity requires us, as a culture, to solicitously respond to the suffering and pain of these individuals contemplating this decision with compassion. Allowing doctors to kill or assist in the killing of these patients is simply not compassion but rather desertion of those who are suffering.
“Dignity doesn’t come from the illusion of power and control, but from mutual dependence and love,” Charles Camosy wrote in an article for USA Today. “People in the Netherlands get assisted suicide simply because they are going blind; Belgians can get it simply for having suicidal thoughts.”
Approving of assisted suicide through the affirmation of the act gives the government greater power, over the individual, against common belief.
Furthermore, through our continual apathy toward these issues of monumental importance, both ethically and legally, we as a society are essentially condoning these tragic acts.
The incentives for medical research will be diminished in the coming decades if this trend continues. Legalizing assisted suicide is only going to make a clearer path for the acceptability of suicide in all forms, not those solely defined by the law.
Lauren Konkol is a contributing writer to the Central Florida Future.