Should We Have the Right To Choose The Moment Of Our Death?
This week in Manitoba, a patient was granted the right to have a physician assisted death. You can read the article here if you want all the details, but as you can imagine, the person is terminally ill and in a great deal of pain.
The Canadian Federal Government has already ruled that Canadians should have access to physician assisted death (suicide) in such cases and the legislation is currently being drafted.
Still, it is a topic for MUCH debate, and as opinionated as I am, this one has me conflicted.
The greatest single factor in shaping my feelings towards the issue is one of faith. My first thought is about fear. We are generally so afraid to die, and our loved ones are so afraid to let us go that we have become obsessed with preserving life at all costs. And to me, that’s because we have lost our faith about life after death. Us humans have become so arrogant in our earthly lives that we no longer believe there is anything greater out there. So to me, when a patient has decided that they can no longer endure the pain of this earthly existence, it is time for us to let them go, because they know that there is something better waiting for them and are no longer afraid. They have made their peace, and so should we.
On the other hand, it is pretty clear that we are not supposed to kill others or ourselves. Is it up to us to decide when life ends? Is it our job to kill what God has created? Will we be punished for our decision, regardless of the fact that it was made out of love and respect and compassion? Is sin ambiguous like that? Is it the intent behind an action that determines if it really is a sin? Or is it the action itself?
And of course, there is the legal and mundane risks associated with allowing assisted death. How do you determine if someone has the right to die? Will there be a clear set of criteria? A checklist? In the case that a patient has become so ill they can no longer make decisions for themselves, can a relative decide that it is their time?
I can only conclude this:
Nobody will ever be able to determine how they will feel in a desperate situation until they are in it. Sure. We all think we know how we feel about topics such as this until we are truly having to make that decision. A final decision.
I like to think that I would be strong, and tough it out to the end so that I could spend as many meaningful last moments with the ones I love as possible. But I would never ever want to drag it out to the point where they are overcome with grief and uncertainty and the quality of their lives is non existent. Love doesn’t look like that.
We allow our pets to be put down to ease their suffering, and I think the hardest part of that is not knowing when it is time to do so. When I lost one of my pups last year, I didn’t just grieve for her passing, but I struggled really hard with wondering if I had made the decision because I didn’t love her enough to continue to care for her. I gave myself a real hard time about that.
And I know that people are not the same as pets. Ok? But it makes me think that as long as the patient is the one making the decision, it will help the loved ones to know that they didn’t sell them short, or abandon them, or whatever.
So. Should people be allowed the right to die?
Yes. As a society I believe we should.
And as a human and a Christian, I believe that the moral ramifications of that is gonna have to be between me and God. It’s not like you’re going to pray for a lightning bolt to strike you down. God works his will through people, so maybe this is no different.
What do you think?