A commandment is a commandment
Euphemisms are ubiquitous in our language. According to Dictionary.com, they are “the substitution of a mild or vague expression for one thought to be offensive.” It’s no wonder, then, that advocates of murder and suicide bandy the word euthanasia around in an attempt to soften the “offensive” fact of going against the Fifth Commandment.
Now that Parliament is back in session this battle for life, with its immense consequences, is coming to Canada.
Over the next few months members of Parliament will debate bill C-384, the so-called “right to die” bill. It’s a private member’s bill seeking to legalize euthanasia. It is the duty of us Catholics to oppose this bill.
Euthanasia is being considered in western society for three reasons. First, the progress of science has given human beings a sense of mastery over the universe, and they erroneously believe this includes a right of mastery over life and death.
Second, human beings, who immerse themselves in the satisfaction of this world, have become indifferent to whatever lies beyond earthly experience. Third, in some places, advocates of euthanasia have monopolized the media.
There are reasons of faith and social reasons against the legalization of euthanasia.
Reasons of faith
The two main reasons of faith against euthanasia are: first, the right of God, and second, human dignity. God alone, as our Creator, has dominion over all life. He alone has the ownership of human life, and man is only steward of his own life.
Those who advocate euthanasia assume ownership of human life, thus infringing on the sovereign right of God. Hence euthanasia is either murder or suicide. In Evangelium Vitae Pope John Paul II unequivocally declared, “euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person.”
The life of each human person has inherent and inviolable worth and dignity, which cannot be reduced or taken away by life’s circumstances. Human life is sacred, in and of itself, apart from its usefulness. God has given each of us the right to live, but He has given us neither the right to die nor the right to kill.
There are three categories of social reasons against euthanasia: it promotes the culture of death, it endangers the health-care system, and it opens the doors to a list of deadly abuses.
The legalization of euthanasia can easily become “the duty to die” for the most vulnerable: the sick, depressed, elderly, and disabled in our society. They will want to spare others an emotional and financial burden.
Legalization will send the message to young people that it is all right to take one’s own life, and suicide is already the second leading cause of death for adolescents in Canada. In places where euthanasia has been legalized, the rate of teen suicide has also increased.
Euthanasia endangers the health-care system. The purpose of health care is to save lives, not destroy them. The duties of doctors are to cure and to heal, not to kill. Legalized euthanasia will make the doctor a person to be feared rather than trusted.
If euthanasia is legalized, we can expect the sick, the disabled, and the elderly to have good reason to fear going to hospitals and care-giving institutions. Doctors should kill the pain, not the patient.
Legalized euthanasia will deter the search for better methods of pain control and treatment of disease. Palliative care has been making advances here, but not in the Netherlands, where euthanasia is practised instead.
Euthanasia also opens the doors to a list of deadly abuses. Doctors in the Netherlands annually kill hundreds of patients who have not requested death. In scores of documented cases euthanasia has turned out to be the result of criminal scheming. In other reported cases, doctors carried out euthanasia because of impatience or because of outbursts of anger.
We need to work together to stop bill C-384. For an analysis of the bill and some sample letters to help you in writing to your MP, please visit www.euthanasiaprevention.on.ca.
Here is my other Pax Sinica articles