The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that life is one of the three pillars named in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness….” Life itself is “endowed” by God; therefore, no one has the right to deprive anyone of life, even if it is one’s own life. Only God has the right to take life because He it is that gives life.
Since Brittany Maynard moved to Oregon for the sole purpose of being allowed to take her own life, physician-assisted suicide has been more in the news. Oregon, Washington, and Vermont have passed statutes legalizing physician-assisted suicide, and eighteen more states are considering doing so, including Alaska and my home state.
Ryan T. Anderson of The Heritage Foundation published an article discussing why “legalizing physician-assisted suicide would be a grave mistake.” He first discussed the position of the physicians, who have taken the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm and ease the pain of those who suffer….”
Anderson quoted the oath that every physician makes before receiving the credentials to practice medicine: “I will keep [the sick] from harm and injustice. I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.” He claims that this statement “is an essential precept for a flourishing civil society. No one, especially a doctor, should be permitted to kill intentionally, or assist in killing intentionally, an innocent neighbor.
“Human life doesn’t need to be extended by every medical means possible, but a person should never be intentionally killed. Doctors may help their patients to die a dignified death from natural causes, but they should not kill their patients or help them to kill themselves. This is the reality that such euphemisms as `death with dignity’ and `aid in dying’ seek to conceal.”
Anderson quoted from a new report from The Heritage Foundation, which explains further why making physician-assisted suicide legal would be “a grave mistake. The report explains that it would: (1) endanger the weak and vulnerable, (2) corrupt the practice of medicine and the doctor-patient relationship, (3) compromise the family and the relationships between family generations and (4) betray human dignity and equality before the law. These four concepts are explained further in Anderson’s article.
Anderson defined physician-assisted suicide: “With physician-assisted suicide, a doctor prescribes the deadly drug, but the patient must take the drug himself. While most activists in the United States publicly call only for physician-assisted suicide, they have historically advocated not only physician-assisted suicide, but also euthanasia: the intentional killing of the patient by a doctor.
“The Supreme Court has ruled in two unanimous decisions that there is no constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide….
“The logic of assisted suicide leads to euthanasia because if `compassion’ demands that some patients be helped to kill themselves, it makes little sense to claim that only those who are capable of self-administering the deadly drugs be given this option. Should not those who are too disabled to kill themselves have their suffering ended by a lethal injection?
“And what of those who are too disabled to request that their suffering be ended, such as infants or the demented? Why should they be denied the `benefit’ of a hastened death? Does not `compassion’ provide an even more compelling reason for a doctor to provide this release from suffering and indignity?”
Brittany Maynard killed herself after writing her goodbye note on Facebook: “Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more.”
Fifty-one year old Maggie Karner received the same diagnosis that was given to Maynard – terminal brain cancer. She made a video and put it on YouTube in an effort to convince Maynard from continuing with her plans for suicide. Karner, with the same disease, chose to live as long as possible.
Thirty-eight year old Kara Tippetts is the mother of four children and has terminal breast cancer. She wrote to Maynard in an effort to convince her to change her plans.
One of my daughter’s dear friends recently lost his fight with cancer, but he did not kill himself. He fought it for as long as he could and then spent his last days with his wife, child, parents, siblings, and friends. He died with dignity surrounded by loved ones.
My own daughter-in-law has brain cancer. Nearly five years ago a baseball-size tumor was discovered in her brain; the tumor has been removed but cancer cells remain in her brain. She was told to go home and make sure her spouse knew how to do everything necessary. She lived with the idea that her death was imminent but committed to fight it to the end. Because of her commitment to fight and her willingness to do difficult things, she has enjoyed more than four years with her husband and child and will probably enjoy many more years with them.
We have the freedom to live and should not take that freedom lightly. Instead of seeking legal ways to end life, we should be spending our time and money seeking ways to cure cancer and extend life. Life is a gift from God. We have the right to live until God deems our lives are finished.