Challenge Response: Euthanasia Is a Fundamental Human Right

Here's my response to this week's challenge.


0:06 Is euthanasia a fundamental human right?

0:10 Well this week's challenge says that it

0:13 is, and here's what they state: "The right

0:15 to choose is fundamental and applies to

0:18 all elements of human life, which by the

0:20 nature of human life includes the right

0:22 to choose how you die. As an example, a

0:26 terminally ill individual who is

0:27 currently under significant pain may

0:30 choose to die with dignity as is his

0:33 right. To deny him this is to deny him his

0:36 personal autonomy and is an act that is

0:38 is trespassing on his humanity."

0:41 Now, the challenge goes on to explain a

0:43 little bit more about some of the

0:44 details of what a situation might be

0:46 like that would prompt a person to want

0:49 to have euthanasia. But let me just make

0:51 one quick clarification here before I

0:53 respond. This challenge seems to be more

0:56 about physician-assisted suicide than it

0:57 is about euthanasia. Now, there's a small

1:01 but significant difference between those

1:03 two things. In the case of

1:05 physician-assisted suicide,

1:06 it is the patient who is administering

1:09 the drug or the chemical themself that

1:13 ends up killing themselves.

1:14 In euthanasia, you have someone other

1:18 than the patient administering the drug

1:20 or the lethal dose of a substance to

1:23 kill them.

1:23 So again, it's a small but, I think, a

1:25 significant difference between those two

1:27 things. I think this challenge is more

1:28 about physician-assisted suicide than it

1:30 is about euthanasia. Now, the challenge

1:32 here claims that people have a

1:34 fundamental right to euthanasia, and so

1:37 in my response, I want to focus on this

1:39 notion of what it means to have a

1:41 fundamental right and what is a right?

1:42 Now, I think a right entails two kinds of

1:46 things, and the first is this: A right is

1:49 a just claim to something. It means that

1:52 you believe you are entitled to

1:54 something, and therefore someone else has

1:57 an obligation to provide that thing to

1:59 you.

2:00 So, for example, if you say, "I have a right

2:02 to a college education,"

2:04 what that means is that you believe that

2:05 you're entitled to someone paying for a

2:08 college education, that you deserve a

2:09 college education, and that someone else

2:12 is obligated to give that thing to you

2:14 whether it

2:15 be your parents, or the state, or whoever,

2:18 but someone has to pay for it or provide

2:20 it for you.

2:21 The second thing is this: All rights

2:24 entail morale language. That means if you

2:26 believe you have a fundamental right to

2:28 something, that means you believe that

2:31 there is a moral obligation for you

2:36 to get that thing, and someone else is

2:38 morally obligated to provide you with

2:40 that thing.

2:41 And so therefore, it would be immoral

2:42 to withhold that thing from you if you

2:46 believe you have a fundamental right to

2:47 it. Now rights don't just pop into

2:49 existence out of thin air,

2:51 okay? They have to be grounded, and they

2:53 have to be granted. And by grounded i

2:55 just simply mean that a right has to

2:57 have an appropriate grounding. There has

2:58 to be an appropriate rationale and

3:01 justification for why you believe you

3:03 deserve that right.

3:05 They also have to be granted. That means

3:06 that someone has to be identified as the

3:09 person responsible for granting you that

3:12 particular right. And so this then raises

3:16 a question in my mind regarding this

3:18 challenge.

3:19 Who is the person demanding that they

3:23 have, or that people have, a right to

3:25 euthanasia? Snd specifically, what is

3:28 their worldview? And I want to kind of

3:30 know that because to me the key question

3:32 is, who is the person they believe is

3:35 going to grant them this particular

3:36 right? Now let me just evaluate this

3:38 question based upon or according to two

3:42 worldviews – atheism and the Christian

3:46 worldview. Of course, there's other

3:47 worldviews, but let me just address it

3:48 regarding those two worldviews. Now, if the

3:51 person who is making this challenge is

3:53 an atheist and atheism is their worldview

3:55 then I see at least two problems.

3:57 Number one is this: Rights mean that there

4:00 must be a rights giver.

4:02 But of course, if atheism is true, or if

4:04 that's the worldview of the person, then


there is no God, there is no rights giver,

4:09 therefore there is no one to give you

4:11 these rights. Now, they might say, "But

4:14 Alan, okay, there's no God, but I'll

4:17 say that the state is the one who gives

4:18 us these rights. And therefore, we can

4:21 vote, or fight for

4:24 certain legislation to give the right to

4:25 euthanasia."

4:26 Well that's true, you can do that,

4:28 but there's two problems with that.

4:29 Number one is this: If the state can give

4:32 you a right, then the state can also take

4:35 that right away. And of course, if that's

4:37 the nature of the right, the second thing

4:38 that follows is that this is not a

4:40 fundamental human right.

4:42 It's not a right that is given to you by

4:44 virtue of you being human.

4:46 It's just the right that's given to you

4:47 by virtue of vote, and as I said, if they

4:50 could be voted into law,

4:51 it can be voted out of law. The state can

4:53 give it to you, but the state can also take it

4:55 away. Now, the second problem with the

4:58 atheistic worldview regarding

5:00 this particular challenge is that a

5:03 right, as I said, entails moral claims. And

5:07 if there is no God, there is no moral

5:09 lawgiver, so who is the person, then, going

5:12 to ensure that you have a moral

5:14 obligation to receive this particular

5:16 fundamental human right? Now, we can also

5:19 evaluate this challenge in light of a

5:21 Christian worldview. Now, in Christian

5:23 worldview, there is a God, so there is a

5:25 Rights Giver and there is a Moral

5:28 Lawgiver. So there is a possibility that

5:30 in the Christian worldview that

5:32 there is a fundamental right to

5:33 something. And indeed, there are

5:34 fundamental rights in light of the

5:36 Christian worldview. In fact, that's the way

5:38 the Declaration of Independence grants

5:40 or says that we as American citizens

5:43 have rights.

5:44 All men are created equal and are

5:47 endowed by their creator

5:48 by God certain unalienable rights. Namely,

5:52 the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of

5:54 happiness. So it makes sense that there

5:56 would be, in a Christian worldview, the

5:59 possibility of fundamental human rights.

6:00 However, here's the problem: If there is a

6:04 God and the Bible is true, and the

6:05 Christian worldview is true, then you

6:06 don't have a fundamental right to

6:08 euthanasia because the Bible also

6:10 teaches that you don't have the right to

6:12 kill an innocent human being without

6:14 proper justification. And that implies

6:17 that you don't have the right to kill an

6:19 innocent human being even when that

6:21 human being is yourself.

6:23 Now, if you're a Christian, in other

6:26 words, if it's not just the Christian

6:28 worldview is true, but that you're

6:30 actually follow Jesus Christ,

6:32 well then you're even more limited

6:33 because the Scriptures tell us that if

6:35 you're a Christian, you are not your own.

6:37 You were bought with a price. And God,

6:41 therefore,

6:41 is your rightful authority, and He

6:45 doesn't give you the fundamental right

6:46 to kill yourself because He is the

6:47 author of life, and of course also of

6:49 death.

6:50 So notice, if atheism is true, then there

6:54 is no rights giver, there is no moral

6:56 lawgiver, so there's no possibility to

6:57 have a fundamental right to euthanasia.

7:00 And of course, if the Christian worldview

7:02 is true, and again, I know there's other

7:03 worldviews, but just regarding these two,

7:05 if the Christian worldview is

7:07 true, then of course you still don't have

7:09 a fundamental right to euthanasia

7:10 because of course, God would oppose the

7:13 killing of innocent human beings even

7:14 when that human being is yourself.

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Alan Shlemon