Recently a news article has caught my attention. Expatica has reported that a group of prominent Dutch has launched a people’s initiative for a bill allowing people over 70 to end their lives under professional supervision.
The article mentions, that “the essence of the group’s proposal is that assisting at suicide should no longer be punishable if several experts have given their agreement according to a narrowly defined procedure.” They would be able to start a discussion if they managed to gather at least 40,000 signatures.
I am nothing but upset at this plea. Euthanasia, the process that they are pleading, is an assisted process of “ending one’s life or letting one’s die.” There are variants in euthanasia procedure. First is the method: (1) active which is injecting something or giving something; or (2) passive which is pulling out the life-support plug or simply stop giving the patients their medicine. Second is the will of the patient: (1) voluntary which means the patient is in good mental condition to say that he/she is willing to be ‘assisted’; or (2) involuntary which means the patient does not have the capability to willingly support the procedure – in most cases the patient is in a coma. And the third variant is the reason, and this can be varying from economic reasons down to tired of life.
The Netherlands, which is the only country that legalize assisted suicide (which other people say as the same as euthanasia), allow it to happen with since 2002, with the conditions: the presence of 2 physician and only done for intolerable pain and the incurable – and not for people who are tired of life.
This case is trying to move towards the legalization of euthanasia for people who are simply tired of life. They are trying to legalize professional assistance of ending their own life for whatever reason. They choose euthanasia because they want someone else to do the job for them – professionally. This means that they want to end their life, but they don’t want to do it by themselves. If they were committing suicide then there will be no issue or debate about this. They will probably increase Dutch’s 8 per 1000 suicide rate, which is pretty low compare to 18 per 1000 in Belgium. However, they don’t feel that suicide is the best way to go; they want it to be subtle and done by someone else – professionally.
I will raise my objections based on my basic premise that God is the owner of life. No one has the power over life except the Creator God-self. God gives lives and we have to respect it. All of God’s commandments were summarized to the law of love, and love is to protect life. Thus, God calls us to cherish life.
Based on this premise we have Christian ethics that helps us to see this problem clearly. Christian ethics based its thinking on God’s will and not human’s will, and discuss what does God have to say at a certain point. As community of believers who proclaim God’s work, the Church should continue to proclaim God’s words in honoring life. To know what God wants, we need to pray and ask for the Spirit to guide us with community of believers and Christian ethics helps us to doing this. It is more than just saying right or wrong, it gives considerations on important matters. No one knows what God is saying to these complicated questions therefore we always need to discuss this. When we have the answer then we don’t need this debate anymore because people can figure out what’s the real solution is. However we can base our arguments in God’s love and that is to appreciate and cherish life. Thus, I will try to break down the issue through Christian ethics lenses in the following points.
We see that there are two parties involved in the case of euthanasia for people with any reason (except terminal ill or unbearable pain) when they are over 70s: the patient and the physician.
The patient chooses to end his/her life but doesn’t want to do it him/herself. Why does the patient feel the need to have someone else to end his/her life on their request? This means two things. First reason: fear. Patients want to end their life but too afraid, or maybe not willing to do it themselves. They want a decent way to die and suicide is certainly not one of them. Second: honor. Being murdered is also not an option because they do not know how it’s going to be or how painful the process might be. Thus the reasons they have are self-centered, they put human as the subject of life.
Because of these reasons they want someone else to do the job. But this is not easy to do. The physicians are the ones who will do the actual ‘ending one’s life’ by either injecting or giving medicine that they know would end one’s life. Here the issue is not only that God forbid us to take other people’s life, we also have laws that say so. These people want to legalize professional assistance on not to feel pain and misery in their lives. This means they want to stop any legal prosecutions on the people who are committing the act of ‘ending one’s life.’ Although there are laws saying that physicians are allowed to reject such action, but it is not a guarantee that some will not be tempted to doing it for various reasons. If they do this, it means that these professional physicians are against their own basic code of conduct which is to save lives.
In any case, legalized euthanasia for people above 70s is such a low view of human life. When others are racing against time in stem-cell research to save lives; or find a cure for cancer; or campaign against cigarette and drugs; or trying to heal sick people; these people just want to be helped in ending their life, and paid some money for it. When people in the other part of the world are struggling so hard to meet their needs so they could live, these people will spend their money to ending their life.
God gives life. Anyone who is helping to end someone’s life just because he/she is tired of life is doing the actual act of murder. Anyone who wants to end his/her life needs is thinking that he/she own his/her life. God is the owner of life. But how do we spread this message?
As a community of believer, the Church has to proclaim God’s love in life. I think that we are called to do something about this case. We need to answer it by giving our view in the realm of human law based on our faith that God owns life and no one should take other people’s life. In the secular community like the Netherlands society, we cannot stand still to see such low value of human lives. I believe God is calling us to raise our voice when something like this takes place and try to advise people to say no in the legal battle. Trusting God’s omnipotent work also means believing that God can do it through our voice. In this stance, I will choose to proclaim God’s words and say no to legalized euthanasia to people in their 70s, and help people who are feeling depressed or tired of life when they are over 70s. I encourage you (if you are Dutch) to vote no for this (although I can’t do it myself because I’m not Dutch).
Just a little side-track, I am really confused why family doesn’t take care of their old ones so that they will not feel depressed and lonely. God calls us to take care of fellow human, especially our brothers and sisters, our parents, our old ones. I simply don’t believe that this is Dutch cultural. I think it is caused by individualistic modern teaching. I know some Dutch families that are taking good care of their old ones. If you respect God’s given life then you will love the life around you. I know if my grandma or mother wet herself in bed, I will change the sheet for her and still tell her that I love her. It is not physical deterioration that matters most; its mental help, love and support that they really need. When humanity is at the center of life, it becomes the center-value and you have the utmost right on your own life. When you respect God’s given life, you respect yours and take care of other people life too.
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