Will the Right to Die Become a Duty to Die?

Coloradans will vote on an assisted suicide measure this November. Those who vote "Yes" are signing their own death warrants.

In a recent article at National Review Online, George Weigel tells a chilling story about just how far the culture of death has advanced in some parts of the West.

Three elderly parishioners at the Canadian church he attends during the summer were diagnosed with cancer. Now, that's bad enough. But what followed was even worse. The first thing they were asked after being told their diagnosis was, "Do you wish to be euthanized?"

While this story should upset us, it shouldn't shock us. Despite all the promises made by supporters of physician-assisted suicide, the so-called "safeguards" against pressuring vulnerable people to end their lives "have proved to be inadequate and have often been watered down or eliminated over time."

Or, as Belgian law professor Étienne Montero observed, "What is presented at first as a right [to die] is going to become a kind of obligation."

Thus, in fourteen years Belgium went from euthanizing terminally-ill adults, to killing chronically-ill adults, to offing adults who had lost their will to live, to finally disposing of children.

As Weigel's story suggests, Canada seems literally hell-bent on catching up with Belgium in this regard. Physician-assisted suicide has only been legal there since this spring and it has already transformed the practice of medicine in Canada. And if some Canadian philosophers get their way, a willingness to kill your patients will be a prerequisite for practicing medicine in the Great White North.

Now it's Colorado's turn to play waiting room Russian Roulette. This November my fellow Coloradans and I will vote on Proposition 106, also known by its Orwellian title: "The End of Life Options Act."

The supporters of the act, which is modeled on California's recent legislation of the same name, assure voters that a vote for physician-assisted suicide is a vote for "compassion." They assure us that it will remain limited to cases of extreme suffering.

But as Weigel points out, the language of the proposed act is "duplicitous." It characterizes killing someone as "palliative care." And it defines an "adult" as anyone 18 or older, which leads to the absurdity of not being old enough to drink but old enough to request assistance in killing yourself.

And in a backhanded admission of a guilty conscience, the deceased's death certificate would list the cause of death as the illness they suffered from and not suicide.

If supporters of assisted suicide need to mislead and obfuscate about basic matters such as these, why should we believe their assurances that no one will be coerced into killing themselves? Little wonder that disability advocates oppose the measure.

Colorado history should also give us pause. Thirty-two years ago, then-governor of Colorado, Richard Lamm told a group of health-care lawyers that the terminally-ill elderly have "a duty to die and get out of the way" instead of trying to prolong their lives. He compared the fulfillment of this "duty" to "leaves falling off a tree and forming humus for the other plants to grow up."

It would be foolish to think that the "right-to-die" won't, much less can't, one day become the "duty to die," especially in an aging society where health care costs as a percentage of the GDP are projected to double over the next 25 years. By the way, also on the Colorado ballot this year is state-run healthcare.

The only way to prevent the "right to die" from becoming a "duty to die" is to reject the "right to die" from the start. Anything else places the most vulnerable — the elderly and especially the disabled — on an already well-greased slippery slope.

Unless the Lord returns, each and every one of us will die of old age, disease, or tragedy. And except in the case of tragedy, if the advocates of so-called compassion have their way, you, I, and our loved ones will end up facing the same question George Weigel's fellow parishioners were asked: "Do you wish to be euthanized?"

Orginally posted at breakpoint.org.

From BreakPoint. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship