The Slippery Slope of the Right-to-Die Movement

Alan's monthly letter for March 2009

Dear Friend,

There’s one fact about you I’m sure of: even though you’ll live forever, someday your earthly body will die. But that’s not really a problem. The real concern is that you may not die instantly. You might linger on after an accident or disease and someone else will be responsible for your care. And if right-to-die advocates have their way, you’ll have a duty to die – a moral obligation to kill yourself.

That’s the result of the slippery slope to legalize physician assisted suicide. First, the culture grants suffering individuals a right to die. Then, there’s an implicit obligation for those who are a burden on society to take the death doctors’ lethal prescription.

Duty-to-die-champion John Hardwig of the University of Tennessee, explains that “A duty to die is more likely when continuing to live will impose significant burdens – emotional burdens, extensive care-giving, destruction of life plans, and yes, financial hardship – on your family and loved ones.”

And in case you don’t kill yourself, you can be sure someone will be happy to do it for you. That’s what has happened in the Netherlands since they legalized euthanasia in 2001. Doctors started by killing terminally ill patients who were competent and asked to be killed. But soon they moved on to patients who were neither terminally ill, nor competent enough to ask for it.

Now, Dutch doctors decide which lives are worth living. Studies show that doctors kill three to four patients each day (though they call it “death with dignity”). These are people who never ask to be killed but are competent to make their own medical decisions.

You think it couldn’t get any worse, but it does. Pediatricians in the Netherlands are also killing children. The University Medical Center of Gronigen kills around 20 disabled newborns each year. Eduard Verhagen, medical director of the pediatric department, made the following asinine statement in an interview: “You are trained to save the life of a child but with these children the suffering can only be stopped by ending their lives. It takes courage to do that.”

Killing a defenseless and disabled child is not courageous, but cowardice. Courage is fighting to improve the conditions of disabled children who, some in our culture believe, are not worth caring for.

But killing disabled children is the logical absurdity of a culture that buys into the right-to-die movement. Unfortunately, America has begun to buy in. Washington and Oregon have already passed laws making it legal for a physician to prescribe a lethal dose of a drug to a person who wants to commit suicide.

It’s a culture of death that needs the life-saving truth of Jesus. And given the high stakes, I’m committed to protecting vulnerable people from a philosophy that denies the intrinsic value of human life. I’m greatly encouraged to have you on my side, supporting me along the way.

With appreciation of our partnership,

Alan Shlemon

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