End of Life
There is within Christianity a general expectation that life on earth entails suffering, and in special ways, for Christians. Beyond the suffering that results from persecution, a suffering that persists, for example, in China, the Sudan, and Indonesia even as I write, there is the suffering that accompanies compassion that takes the form of suffering with and taking on the burdens of others.
There is a new "Dr. Death" on the international scene. Dr. Philip Nitschke is carrying on the work of Jack Kevorkian, the original "Dr. Death" who is serving a 10 to 25 year prison sentence for his role in killing Thomas Youk, a patient suffering from "Lou Gehrig's Disease." Kevorkian administered a lethal injection to Youk, captured this act of euthanasia on videotape, and sent it to the news program Sixty Minutes, which aired an edited version.
Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from the Center book Life's Worth: The Case Against Assisted Suicide by Arthur J. Dyck.
"Favoring physician-assisted suicide (hereafter PAS) is intuitive, self-evident; it is a matter of compassion." That is what one of my students recently claimed, and his view is shared by others. "After all," he went on to argue, "what else would any humane person do but assist those who are suffering and terminally ill to die if they wish such assistance?"
Does God Need Our Help? Cloning, Assisted Suicide, & Other Challenges in Bioethics
By John F. Kilner and C. Ben Mitchell
(Wheaton IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2002)
Life’s Worth: The Case against Assisted Suicide
Arthur J. Dyck
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002)
A recurring theme in the encyclicals of John Paul II has been the necessity that we harness freedom to truth. Speaking from the vantage-point of one who has had intimate acquaintance with political tyranny, John Paul addresses those of us who live in a "free" society by reminding us that the wedding of democratic pluralism and moral relativism constitutes a thinly-veiled totalitarianism.
Some say that sedating a patient in unbearable, untreatable pain is appropriate, even if it is done indefinitely. Others say that doing so is tantamount to killing the person. The following debate is offered to provoke our thinking at this early stage in the discussion.
Introduction Persons with decisional capacity may formulate a set of Advance Directives as a means of providing instructions regarding future medical decisions in the event that they become incapable of making decisions regarding their own medical care. These tools frequently address various aspects of end-of-life care and may include guidelines for deciding if and when the patient wishes to be resuscitated.