The world watches in shock as Thomas Evans and Kate James attempt to save the life of their son Alfie Evans. Alfie started having seizures when he was one year old, and his doctors suspect that he has a degenerative neurological condition. However, Alfie has never been diagnosed with the condition. He needs a ventilator in order to breathe, and he is in a semi-vegetative condition.
A long series of legal battles began when Alfie’s parents and the staff at the hospital could not agree on his treatment. The hospital asked the High Court to take away parental rights and to remove Alfie from ventilation. The parents appealed to British courts and to the European Court of Human Rights. The Vatican hospital agreed to treat Alfie, but British courts will not allow his parents to take him to Italy. The judges in United Kingdom ruled that the ventilator should be removed and that the family cannot pursue other treatment abroad. In other words, the British judges have decided to act as God with regards to Alfie and his life.
All human life has value and should be treated with reverence. No individual, group, or government has the right to deny life to an innocent person. This right is reserved by God, and He alone has the right to decide when a life should end.
Members of my family recently went through the ordeal of deciding to remove my nephew from life support. He has lung cancer with one lung collapsed from the cancer. He was on life support in the hospital, and the doctors said that he could not live without it. He made the decision to remove the life support. The family was notified, and everyone had an opportunity to tell him goodbye. He was at peace with his decision, and his family accepted it.
The respirator was removed last Saturday, and my nephew began to breathe on his own with a little added oxygen. He left the hospital and was taken to the comfort of his own home to live out the remainder of his days. He has been home for a week and is still breathing on his own. No one expects him to recover from the cancer. We know that he is in the process of dying. However, he left that decision in the hands of God, and God said, “Not yet.”
Elder Russell M. Nelson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke in the April 1985 General Conference on the topic of “Reverence for Life.” He tells of the “heavy toll on life” that comes from war and says that over one million Americans have lost their lives due to war since our nation was founded. He continues with the topic of his talk.
Regrettable as is the loss of loved ones from war, these figures are dwarfed by the toll of a new war that annually claims more casualties than the total number of fatalities from all the wars of this nation.
It is a war on the defenseless – and the voiceless. It is a war on the unborn.
This war, labeled “abortion,” is of epidemic proportion and is waged globally. Over fifty-five million abortions were reported worldwide in the year 1974 alone.
Elder Nelson shares data that was current as of 1974. Here is the latest information that I could find. “During 2010-2014, an estimated 56 million induced abortions occurred each year worldwide. This number represents an increase from 50 million annually during 1990-1994, mainly because of population growth.” More than one million babies are aborted in America every year. Questioning how society can legalize killing babies and still profess reverence for human life, Elder Nelson continues.
Yet society professes reverence for human life. We weep for those who die, pray and work for those whose lives are in jeopardy. For years I have labored with other doctors here and abroad, struggling to prolong life. It is impossible to describe the grief a physician feels when the life of a patient is lost. Can anyone imagine how we feel when life is destroyed at its roots, as though it were a thing of naught?
What sense of inconsistency can allow people to grieve for their dead, yet be calloused to this baleful war being waged on life at the time of its silent development? What logic would encourage efforts to preserve the life of a critically ill twelve-week-old infant, but countenance the termination of another life twelve weeks after inception? More attention is seemingly focused on the fate of a life at some penitentiary’s death row than on the millions totally deprived of life’s opportunity through such odious carnage before birth.
The Lord has repeatedly declared this divine imperative: “Thou shalt not kill.” Recently he added, “Nor do anything like unto it.” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:6.) Even before the fulness of the gospel was restored, the enlightened understood the sanctity of life….
But what impropriety could now legalize that which has been forbidden by the laws of God from the dawn of time? What twisted reasoning has transformed mythical concepts into contorted slogans assenting to a practice which is consummately wrong?
Elder Nelson says, “As sons and daughters of God, we cherish life as a gift from him.” He wonders how we can expect God to help our nation prosper when we break one of His greatest commandments. I also have a question: How can we expect God to look upon us with favor when we allow millions of babies to be killed every single day? We must continue to fight for the right to life for everyone – including sick children and unborn babies – and leave the time of death to God.