Monday, December 22, 2008

Dying With Dignity?

I knew years ago, after fighting in the pro-life movement for unborn children, that one day we would legalize euthanasia. It was only a matter of time. Once a society has decided that certain life has value and certain life does not, then we slide down that slippery slope of determining who should die and rid us of the burden of their presence, and who shall be allowed to live.

From The Weekly Standard:

On December 5, Montana District judge Dorothy McCarter ruled in Baxter v. Montana that the state law banning assisted suicide violates not only the right to privacy guaranteed in the Montana constitution but also the constitutional clause that reads, "The dignity of the human being is inviolable." McCarter found here a "fundamental right" for the terminally ill to "die with dignity"--meaning in the case at hand, to commit suicide by drug overdose.

McCarter also ruled that doctors have a concomitant right to be free from "liability under the State's homicide statutes" if they help a patient commit death with dignity: "If the patient were to have no assistance from his doctor," she explained, "he may be forced to kill himself sooner .  .  . in a manner that violates his dignity and peace of mind, such as by gunshot or by otherwise unpleasant method, causing undue suffering to the patient and his family." That suicide is not a necessity apparently never entered the judge's mind.

Once again, as in Roe v. Wade, the courts are making these decisions and the people have no debate, no vote, and no say. I the same reaction has and will occur that occurred in 1973 with Roe v. Wade. The people uncomfortably ignore it. They shrug their shoulders and say to themselves, "The courts have spoken. There is nothing I can do."

Isn't assisted suicide really just a way to get rid of the unwanted and justify it by assuring ourselves that it was they, the suicide victim, who wanted it themselves?

Oregon already passed an euthanasia law 10 years ago with over 200 patients overdosing themselves with the supervision of a Doctor. Their law provided a 15 day waiting period. But the legal director for the assisted-suicide advocacy organization Compassion & Choice says the waiting period is "unduly burdensome." Does that sound familiar? It should. Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups have long fought the 24 hour waiting period for a woman considering abortion. What is it about these people that they don't even wish for a short time period that the patient think about the life ending/altering decision he or she is about to make?

How many times in my personal experience have I seen a woman coerced into abortion by the boyfriend, husband, or father? How many times will we see the same with the family of the elderly? Especially if an inheritance is involved or the care for the patient is costing too much money. Is there any way to truly monitor that? Of course not. It's a moral nightmare and we, as a society, just allow it.

People on the euthanasia side say that we must be allowed to die with dignity. A pro-longed death is not dignified. But can one honestly say that a suicide death has dignity? Many people have chosen that path without benefit of court approval. They overdose on drugs. Same path. Was that dignified? I don't think so. Does an Doctor administering or authorizing the final dose suddenly make it more dignified? No. It does not.

Because in reality, it's not really about dignity. It's about giving up. It's about fear. It's about being a burden. What does it say about us that allow people we love to feel that way? I've had close ones die of prolonged illnesses of cancer and Alzheimer's. Dying is hard, but then again, so is living. It's what do about it and how we love that makes the difference.

Dignity comes from loved ones comfort and help at the end. Dignity comes from a society that says we still care for you and you still matter in your illness. Would anyone want to die earlier than their natural death if the ones they loved were with them and wanted them here as long as possible?

It's not about the way we die. It's about the people we love that love us as we die. That is what gives us dignity.