Canada (MNN) – Recently in Canada, legislation allowing doctor-assisted suicide for the terminally ill was passed.
While assisted-suicide is available in only a few countries, there’s a growing push to make it available in more countries to more people.
We spoke with Michele Shoun of Life Matters Worldwide to get some perspective on what this says about our culture.
Who is covered by the law?
While many euthanasia laws only allow those who are terminally ill to seek to end their life with the aid of a doctor, the Canadian version has a bit broader of a reach. The law will cover those who face irremediable suffering as well.
Michele Shoun of Life Matters Worldwide believes the number of people covered by laws around the world will continue to grow.
“That has been the pattern in other places where euthanasia has been legalized. I’m thinking of the Netherlands and Belgium especially. They just keep adding to the number of people who would be eligible to be killed.”
BBC brings us the story of a man in Belgium who is seeking to end his life because of his sexuality and psychological trauma. He believes euthanasia is his last option, and is already in the process of getting it approved.
Who is next to claim that death is their only option? It’s a slippery slope.
Shoun says, “It just seems like death is never satisfied.”
Despite the growing acceptance of assisted euthanasia, some people are fighting back.
CBN News says a group of 4,700 Christian doctors in Canada are challenging the law in court. As it stands, though they cannot be forced to perform euthanasia, they are required to refer them to a doctor who might. This is a moral dilemma for some who feel that by referring them to another doctor, they are taking part in their patient’s potential death.
According to Patheos and other news sources, there is also resistance from disability rights groups who feel the law fails to protect the vulnerable in society.
Regarding a similar law that took effect earlier this month in California, Joni Eareckson Tada shared her own reservations with One News Now. She believes it’s possible that the next step will be expanding the law to include the elderly, disabled, and those with serious illnesses. She says people who are eligible for euthanasia may feel pressured to choose that option for financial reasons.
A culture of death and a look at suffering
If assisted suicide laws become so anyone can choose to end their life, it begs the question—what is the value of a life that is disabled, suffering, or dying?
What happens when society as a whole decides there is none?
Shoun says, “There’s not much patience with suffering. We’ve become a culture that thinks we can eradicate suffering altogether by our own means and we stop looking at why we suffer.”
The Bible tells us suffering is a result of mankind falling into sin. But it also tells us God uses this suffering to change and grow His believers where it is necessary.
1 Peter tells us we are to rejoice in our future in heaven, “though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6b-7, ESV).
When we suffer, we are better able to see how much we need and depend on God.
“I think many of our cultures have taken God out of the equation.” Shoun says when we do this, we don’t look for a reason behind suffering. We don’t see any meaning, just that the suffering is to be conquered.
The other aspect, Shoun explains, is that by trying to eradicate suffering completely in ending a life, we lose the opportunity to grow in relationship the way people do when there is suffering.
“We don’t want to come alongside them and walk with them through their struggle because we know it’s going to have a bad end,” she says.
People who hold a strong opposition to assisted suicide will be challenged. They will be told that they’ve never had to endure the kind of suffering others or their family members have. They can’t possibly understand the pain behind it all and how blessed death is at these points. And that may be true in some cases.
It’s a difficult place for the Christian who believes taking the life of someone built in the image of God is wrong.
Shoun gives us a couple of places to start. First of all, we can stand behind those affected by this law who do not agree with it. She names doctors and other medical staff as well as people with disabilities who are threatened by this law.
Another practical way to help is to make sure the people in your sphere of influence know that you value their life, that you love them, and that you are there for them.
We recently told you about the LIFT program by Life Matters Worldwide. It’s run through churches to make sure the elderly and dying are not left alone. They know someone will struggle through it with them. They are reassured that they are not a burden just because they are sick. They are given a voice by those strong enough to stand up for them.
You can also pray and reach out to those who might be considering this option. You can share the Gospel of truth and comfort. The Truth that promises renewal of our bodies, hearts, and minds when we pass on.
“Death is a serious thing. And we are entering into eternity either with the Lord or away from the Lord.”
We want to see people know God, to trust and lean on Him, and to go be with Him someday.