by David Gibbs
In California, life is now an “option.”
“Above all, I must not play God.”
These words come directly from the modern version of the HippocraticÂ Oath, which most physicians around the world are required to take priorÂ to entering the medical profession. Yet, earlier this week, CaliforniaÂ became the fifth state to do exactly that–to legally allow itsÂ physicians to “play God”–by prescribing lethal medications toÂ terminally ill patients who have less than six months to live. Governor
Jerry Brown’s signature on “The End of Life Option Act” is being hailedÂ as a major victory in the push to allow legalized assisted suicideÂ across the country.
Proponents of this law are moving heaven and earth to position theÂ “Death with Dignity” (their words) movement as one defined byÂ compassion, respect, and individual rights. After all, shouldn’tÂ terminally ill patients be permitted to control the manner and time ofÂ their death? Don’t they, or at least shouldn’t they, have that right?
…the poor and elderly, who more often have governmentÂ health care, sometimes find they don’t really have a choice becauseÂ their insurance will pay for suicide drugs but not for treatment.
Stories like twenty-six-year-old cancer patient Brittany Maynard, whoÂ moved from California to Oregon last year for the purpose of legallyÂ taking her own life (because physician-assisted suicide was already
legal in Oregon), are truly heartbreaking, and they prey upon ourÂ sympathies. While we don’t deny the difficulty that she and others likeÂ her have faced, it does not constitute a right to interfere with God’s sole authority to give life and to take it away.
Then there is the factÂ that assisted suicide laws actually show less compassion for the poorÂ and elderly than for others. The reality under Oregon’s assisted suicideÂ law has been thatÂ the poor and elderly, who more often have governmentÂ health care, sometimes find they don’t really have a choice becauseÂ their insurance will pay for suicide drugs but not for treatment.
The moral, professional, and practical problems with physician-assistedÂ suicide are many, but the most fundamental problem lies in the fact thatÂ our lives are not ours to do with as we please. America’s foundersÂ embedded in the Declaration of Independence their core belief that humanÂ beings hold three unalienable rights–Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit ofÂ Happiness–all bestowed by their Creator. An unalienable right is oneÂ that exists whether or not earthly governments recognize it.
Furthermore, unalienable rights are ones that cannot be rightfully takenÂ away OR surrendered. In other words, the right to life guaranteed by theÂ Declaration is not ours to give away. One of the most important roles ofÂ government is to make sure that these unalienable rights are protected.
When a state legalizes assisted suicide, it permits individuals toÂ disregard their God-given right to life and, in doing so, legalizes theÂ surrender of this unalienable right.
At theÂ National Center for Life and Liberty (NCLL), we believe that both physician-assisted suicide (where theÂ patient takes his own life by ingesting doctor-prescribed lethalÂ medications) and active euthanasia (where the practitioner, for example,Â injects the patient with lethal doses of medication) are inherentlyÂ wrong. However, we do not believe it is wrong for a patient to choose toÂ discontinue medical procedures that are extraordinary orÂ disproportionate to the expected outcome.
The NCLL is fighting to preserve andÂ protect life at all stages. Why? Because God, as Creator and giver andÂ sustainer of life, has the sole right to determine when life ends. ThatÂ is not our choice to make. The Bible clearly states it, and America’sÂ Declaration of Independence reaffirms that eternal reality.
Attorney David C. Gibbs III is the President and General Counsel of the National Center for Life and Liberty, a ministry organization that defends life and liberty freedoms nationwide.