Assisted suicide 3
Civil Liberties

Assisted suicide and the unbearable indignity of the insupportable life

 

“I can’t take this anymore,” said Chantal Sebire (left), as the cancerous bulge ate into her nasal cavity and gnawed at her brain, robbing her of sight, taste and smell. Yet the french courts did not permit the terminal condition to be hastened. She would certainly die of the incurable tumour, but its progress would have to be natural, with all the attendant discomfort, misery and pain. No self-respect, no identity or dignity. We don’t treat dogs like that.

“I do not want people to remember me as a sort of old lady hobbling up the road with a trolley,” said Gill Paraoh (right), as she suffered no terminal disease and took no medication. The perfectly healthy former palliative care nurse simply felt she was “going over the hill” and that old age is “awful”. She told The Sunday Times: “I have looked after people who are old, on and off, all my life. I have always said, ‘I am not getting old. I do not think old age is fun’.”

And so off she travelled to Switzerland – where “to Switzerland” is a euphemism for Dignitas, which is a delicate code word for assisted suicide, which is itself a verbal evasion of euthanasia. The goodness of the ‘easy death’ is intrinsic to the one which has dignity, self-determination and compassion. In the case of Chantal Sebire, it would be to end unimaginable physical, mental and emotional agony. In the case of Gill Pharaoh, it would be to end the worry of her becoming a liability to her family and a bed-blocker in the NHS. Perhaps we do treat dogs like that – out of some mistaken notion of mercy.

There is a distinction to be drawn between withholding life-sustaining treatment from the terminally ill, and administering a cocktail of drugs to provoke death in the perfectly healthy. Passive euthanasia (withholding treatment) is legal, while active euthanasia (deliberately acting to end a life) remains illegal – for the time being, at least. But let us not pretend that the thresholds aren’t being blurred and language distorted as the one gradually morphs into the other. Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill will surely expand incrementally to embrace emotional and mental suffering, just as it has done in Belgium and in the Netherlands.  The unbearable life of terminal physical illness is ultimately indistinguishable from the insupportable life of mental anguish. After all, old age is terminal. Who are you to impose your pious absolutes of grave sin and sanctity upon me?

If you can go ‘to Switzerland’, why shouldn’t you be able to pop to the local A&E? Why, in this era of fundamental human rights and absolute equality, should active euthanasia be the preserve of those who can afford to fly out “to Switzerland” with their loved ones, or those who have the luxury of mental competence and are surrounded by those who “understand how you feel”.

Some can endure life’s afflictions with immense stoical grace, but others cannot bear the torment and distress. And some cannot bear to grow old, or even the thought of growing old. If it becomes moral to suppress life prematurely because of the oppressions of time and nature, why should assisted suicide be the preserve of the physically sick at the behest of a few doctors or a judge? Isn’t it a question of liberty and fundamental human rights? If we are free to terminate our lives at a the time of our choosing – as we have been since the decriminalisation of suicide in 1961 – shouldn’t we be free to procure assistance in our desire? Wouldn’t that be the Christian and compassionate thing to offer?

Natural law – what constitutes right and justice – is common to all mankind. The Greeks and the Romans articulated this in their philosophy, setting the foundation for St Paul and later philosophers. Thus did Cicero write of “true law, right reason, diffused in all men, constant and everlasting”; and St Paul reflect on ‘what the law requires is written in their hearts’ (Rom 2:15). Hobbes defines the law of nature as “a precept of general rule found out by reason by which a man in forbidden to do anything which is destructive of his life”.

Opposition to “do anything which is destructive of life” is one of the few general rules which unites all of the world’s religions. The Church of England is unequivocal:

Every person’s life is of immeasurable value and ought to be affirmed, respected and cherished by society. This is true even when some people no longer view their own lives as being of any further value. This attitude is central to our laws and our social relationships; to undermine this in any way would be a grave error and risk eroding carefully tuned values and practices that are essential for a society that respects and cares for all .

The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church states: “Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick and dying persons. It is morally unacceptable” (2277). Pope John Paul II reflected in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae that “we see a tragic spread of euthanasia, disguised and surreptitious, or practised openly or even legally. As well as for reasons of misguided pity at the sight of the patient’s suffering, euthanasia is sometimes justified by the utilitarian motive of avoiding costs which bring no return and weigh heavily on society”. And after him, Pope Benedict XVI stated that “freedom to kill is not a true freedom but a tyranny that reduces the human being to slavery”.

The Orthodox and Protestant churches have expressed similar views, most notably the Baptists, who concluded that “a Christian should never recommend, or help with a suicide of an unsaved person because that would hasten the unsaved person’s damnation and prevent any chance of repentance. It is an affront to God to take one’s own life, both for reasons of his sovereignty but also because any murder is an attempt to annihilate his image in man (Gen1:26f)”.

Similar sentiments opposing euthanasia may be found in the scriptures, ethical teachings and legal traditions of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Suffering is natural to the human condition: the end of life does not need hastening, but loving. There should be no breezy right to an ‘easy death’, but true dignity and unending care through all the filth and stench of the difficult death. Assisted suicide is as morally repugnant as abortion; indeed, it is difficult to comprehend those who repudiate the former while supporting the latter, for both are concerned with the termination of the seemingly deficient, imperfect or unwanted. And both have the whiff  of eugenics about them – ending the ‘unworthy’ life.

Just as the legalisation of abortion was never intended to open the floodgates that it so manifestly has, so the legalisation of ‘assisted suicide’ would mutate over the decades, and eventually – if only out of an assertion of economic and social equality  – lead to the ‘humane’ termination of those who contemplate the inevitability of old age and simply can’t be bothered to continue. And what begins with volunteers will expand to include conscripts, for the ‘right’ to die easily becomes the family’s expectation and a moral duty.

In a culture that worships youth, beauty and physical fitness, the elderly, ugly and disabled may be seen as deficient and decrepit, but they are made in the image of God. And just like Jesus did at Calvary, they must be exhorted to suffer and supported as they endure, and to do so with dignity. And then, with Job, they might come to know that their redeemer lives. And in the meantime, unlike with Job, they need friends and comforters around them who can make them see that their lives have worth, and that their witness to goodness is unique and profoundly valued.

  • Malcolm Smith

    Mary Worth, of Call the Midwife fame wrote a book about dying. She mentioned that a lot of people are taking medication to prevent their chronic disease reaching the stage of killing them. When they talked about euthanasia, she used to ask, “Well, why don’t you just stop taking your medication?”
    “Oh, I could never do that,” was the invariable reply.

  • Dreadnaught

    Hard to reconcile the stark physical difference between these two women that drives them to the final Exit. It takes tremendous will power and courage to end your own life but its a dilemma as old a humanity and deserves respect without the criticisim, which will undoubtedly flow from the fit and healthy god-botherers. Martyrdom is fine by some if its for some overblown religious purpose, and that’s free will too.

    Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes if you want to see why they are limping

    • William Lewis

      but its a dilemma as old a humanity and deserves respect without the criticisim …

      It’s certainly a dilemma for the atheist, or at least Sartre thought so, but the criticism is being aimed at those who would move that dilemma from a personal one to one that is sanctioned, and can be actioned, by the state. That is entirely valid criticism whatever your beliefs.

  • Royinsouthwest

    On the return journey from the South Pole with Captain Scott’s doomed party, Captain Lawrence Oates who was suffering from frostbite and gangrene famously left his tent saying to his companions “I am just going outside and may be some time.” He sacrificed his life to avoid slowing down the other members of the expedition but his self-sacrifice was in vain.

    Oates, quite rightly, is regarded as a hero even though, by accelerating his own death he achieved nothing. Neither of the ladies in this article wanted to accelerate their own deaths in order to save others, like Oates hoped to, but even so I cannot help thinking that if it is OK to accelerate your own death for someone else’s sake then why should it be wrong to help someone in an unbearable situation, like Chantal Sebire, by accelerating her own death?

  • Martin

    And what does the Bible say about death?

    And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, (Hebrews 9:27 [ESV])

    Funny how that never arises in these discussions. We seem to have ceased talking about hastening to judgment, as the hymn says:

    Every island, sea, and mountain,
    Heav’n and earth, shall flee away;
    All who hate Him must, confounded,
    Hear the trump proclaim the day:
    Come to judgment! Come to judgment! Come to judgment!
    Come to judgment! Come away!

    Do we really want to hasten people into God’s judgement? Death is not a merciful end for those who do not love the Saviour. Their pain now is nothing to the pain they shall know.

    • Royinsouthwest

      Who on earth would want to share Heaven with you?

      • dannybhoy

        Lol! Very droll.
        Martin is pointing out a Biblical truth, but perhaps isn’t thinking about those who simply don’t want to know about Christianity, and who can get very angry when you try to bring up the subject. This happens even more when they are in a terminal illness..

        • Royinsouthwest

          There is nothing remotely funny about the point I was making just as there is nothing remotely compassionate about Martin’s comment. If Chantal Sebire had lived in Israel during the earthly ministry of Jesus do you think he would have said to her “your pain now is nothing to the pain you shall know” or would he have healed her?

      • … well, Jack for one wouldn’t refuse entry to Heaven because Martin was there. Would you? And he does make a valid point.

        • Royinsouthwest

          God could admit Hitler if he wanted and I would still gladly accept a place in Heaven. However I would expect that God will give everyone admitted to Heaven a “heart transplant.” Judging by the sheer lack of compassion for the suffering displayed by people mainly interested in commenting on doctrines some people who call themselves Christians are displaying far too much of the Old Adam.

          • Canon Rosie Harper would be proud of you.

          • Royinsouthwest

            Actually she might not be because I am not very keen on changing the law because it is quite possible it would be abused. I believe that people close to those who are suffering in an unbearable manner should have the guts to take steps to end the person’s life if that person clearly wants it and they should only be prosecuted if there were reasons for thinking that they had acted in bad faith.

            A doctor could entrust the administration of painkillers to the person’s family and leave it up to them to decide whether to administer doses sufficient to put an end to the pain for a few hours at a time or whether to administer a dose that would end the pain permanently.

            Of course a coroner would have to be informed and if he/she thought that there were reasons for supposing that the action was not taken in the best interests of the patient then he/she could inform the Criminal Prosecution Service who would then look into the circumstances more closely. Only if there was evidence that the death was hastened for an ulterior motive or against the wishes or best interests of the patient should any charges be brought against the relatives or those closest to the dead person.

          • You advocate turning a blind eye to the law then? That’s what is currently happens.

            In February 2010 the Director of Public Prosecutions launched the Policy for Prosecutors in respect of cases of Encouraging or Assisting Suicide. It amounts to the legalisation of assisting suicide on the grounds of compassion where the person killed is over 18 years of age, no pressure has been applied, no financial gain is suspected and the victim made his views about dying clear.

            “But,” says the DPP “that does not mean prosecutions are more or less likely. The policy has not been relaxed or tightened but there has been a change of focus.”

      • Martin

        Roy

        Why would anyone want to share Heaven with God if they’ve not trusted Him here?

  • A most excellent article, Your Grace.

  • The Explorer

    There’s a cancer advert on TV that says, “One day, we’ll beat cancer.”
    I don’t want to knock the sentiment, but it does raise the question, “What next?” Isn’t it a bit like victims of a shipwreck being picked up by the Titanic?

    Is the real message of the advert, “One day, we’ll beat death”? Fine, provided you beat the ageing process at the same time.

    (Christians, of course, believe Christ HAS beaten death. But that is no consolation to secularists, who think that Christians are simply deluded.)

  • David

    An excellent article Your Grace. Thank you.
    The Churches are all absolutely right on this most difficult subject.
    However I will not sit in judgement on those who decide to take their own lives, because I am not God, but neither will I condone, let alone encourage it.
    After our deaths we will all face judgement.
    The understanding of the details may vary between the Churches but they all share the same general trajectory.
    Only our faith in Our Redeemer, Christ, makes us acceptable to God, our faith being counted as “righteousness”, the price of our redemption having been paid in advance by Our Lord.
    My God guide and bless both of these ladies.

  • Jon Sorensen

    Interesting how Christians want their religious rights, but they are unwilling to grant those right to people with different views. Christians don’t want their lives to be dictated by other but they surely want to dictate the life of non-Christians.

    • The Explorer

      I imagine it’s true of any group with a particular view of life. Don’t PC advocates want their views to apply to everybody? It makes sense; since they believe their views to be right. Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow churches to be built. Christianity is wrong; so why allow it? Same sort of thing.

      • He is correct.
        Unless Christians can advance robust secular arguments against self murder and its assistance, why shouldn’t those who have no belief in a Creator, and no sense that our lives are not our own, be permitted to murder themselves? If, in principle (liberal-secular), there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with it, why shouldn’t they be assisted by others or by the state – subject to protection from ‘abuse’?

        People will look at Chantal Sebire, may God help her in her suffering, and say: “What’s the point? Let her die with the minimum of pain and with dignity.” Telling them there’s self sacrifice in suffering and it’s God will, just isn’t going to have an impact. Then the door will be open for the Gill Paraoh’s of this world.

        Euthanasia, just like abortion, is here already and, without a belief in God, it’s just a matter of time until it becomes as widespread as abortion and as ‘normal’ as same sex marriage.

        • The Explorer

          Yes, I was simply saying that if you believe your views to be true you will want them to apply to everybody. That goes for Christians, Muslims or secularists, and is uncontroversial. The problematic bit is, whose views are right in the first place?
          I’m not sure there are robust secular arguments against euthanasia. As Locke demonstrated, the importance of the individual is valid only if underpinned by God. I think it’s easier to make robust secular arguments against abortion and SSM than against euthanasia, and since those two have gained such traction, the third is bound to follow suit.

          • Jon Sorensen

            The point is not that “…if you believe your views to be true you will want them to apply to everybody.” Christians are pushing their views to others. Others are rejecting this pushing.

          • The Explorer

            But aren’t you, in your turn, pushing your views on us? If you aren’t, what are you doing?

          • Jon Sorensen

            You don’t have to do assisted suicide. It’s your choice.

          • So the age of consent – should that be abolished to? After all, if you don’t want to have sex with under 16’s you shouldn’t – your choice. And speed limits – you don’t have to travel over 70mph – your choice. See how idiotic that line of argument is?

          • Jon Sorensen

            The age should probably be when you are legal adult. So no. this has nothing to do with age of consent. This is nothing like driving over speed limit. Speeding can cause harm to others; passengers and third party. Your analogy is a fallacy.

          • Arrghhh! [Sound of me banging head against brick wall]

            I’m going to assume that you are in fact an intelligent person and make one final attempt to speak to you rationally.

            I’m not interested in the specifics of individual laws. Can you not see that you have just advocated a case for having a speed limit and an age of consent? And can you not see that by doing so you are “imposing your beliefs” on others? [After-all Germany has no autobahn speed limits; other nations have much lower ages of consent].

            What about voting – why aren’t all people free to vote; why aren’t we free to have sex in public; why aren’t we free to get married to as many people as we want; why aren’t we free to put whatever substances we want into our own bodies; why aren’t we free to remain uneducated; why aren’t we free to drive without seatbelts; why aren’t we free to discriminate against people because of the colour of their skin; why aren’t pacifists free from paying taxes towards the armed forces; why aren’t I free to build whatever I like on my own land; why aren’t I free to employ whoever I want to work in my business; etc etc etc ad nauseum

            Can you understand yet that a corollary of living under the rule of law is that someone’s will prevails; someone is “imposing their beliefs” on the rest of us? Surely you’re not such a dumbass to believe that laws/rules/regulations you disagree with are an unfair imposition whereas the ones you do agree with aren’t?

          • Jon Sorensen

            I like is when people “attempt to speak to [me] rationally”
            You seem to have a hangup about imposing beliefs. Sounds like it is coming from the privileged person imposing beliefs to others.

            Let’s say that earlier shops were not allowed to be open on Sundays so Christian blue laws were imposed to everyone
            If now shops can but don’t have to be open on Sundays, shop owners are not imposed any belief. They can choose.

            Giving one a freedom to choose is not imposing a belief no matter what you claim.

            —-

            Slave: I want freedom
            Slave owner: Well, inalienable rights come from….
            Rebel Saint: Excuse me. Stop that. We need to discuss first about who can impose beliefs, while I keep imposing my beliefs on you.

          • “You seem to have a hangup about imposing beliefs.”

            I suggest you look back at the timeline of your comments where you’ll discover it is you who introduced the whole topic of “imposing beliefs” into the conversation.

            I’ll refer you back to my previous comments in which the argument has been made ad nauseam about how “giving people the freedom to choose” is in fact the imposition of a particular set off beliefs.

            You seem to have a particular hang-up about things which you believe give Christians a “privilege” (though I’m not sure how having restricted shopping hours, or the responsibility of caring for the elderly or suffering gives us a particular privilege). Using the example you cite of Sunday Trading, I wasn’t aware that USDAW or the federation of small businesses were Christian lobby groups, or that secular France was so keen on “privileging” Christians.

            Simply because a law/precept/guideline has the support of Christian theology doesn’t simply make if a “privilege” for Christians. And in the topic in hand (Euthanasia), I wasn’t aware that the Hippocratic oath was of Christian origin and to give only Christians protection?

            It is ironic that you keep using the example of slavery as an analogy of Christian “privilege” given that it was chiefly the work of Christian’s who gave slaves their liberty. I presume you would have argued at the time that Christian’s shouldn’t be imposing their world view on others: pesky, privileged Christians banning slavery. People should be free to choose if they want to be slaves or not.

          • Jon Sorensen

            When did Christians got the “responsibility of caring for the elderly or suffering”? I didn’t realise non-Christian don’t do that. Nobody claimed that USDAW was Christian lobby group (=strawman). It is normal that privileged people don’t realise their privileges. They might picture themselves in Kings court where every opposing idea is from “court jester”. I would recommend to live awhile in Muslim or Hindu dominating country, it would be an eye-opening for you.

            I’m glad you brought up Hippocratic oath. No Christians takes the original version of course, but they take the modern version written by a modern Christian. It has been revised many times and can be revised again if needed.

            You said: “It is ironic that you keep using the example of slavery as an analogy of Christian “privilege” given that it was chiefly the work of Christian’s who gave slaves their liberty.”

            Tell me who was Wilberforce fighting; Muslims, atheists, humanists? Did churches and upper house Christians support him? Christians always take both sides of an argument and the following generations will take credit who ever wins. Trust me that future Christians will claim that they gave us marriage equality and die with dignity laws

          • Jon Sorensen

            Slave: I want freedom
            Owner: Don’t push your ideas to others

            non-Christian:…
            Christian: Blasphemy
            non-Christian: I want freedom of speech
            Christian: Don’t push your ideas to others

          • No – you fundamentally misunderstand the position. I’m not sure whether you are wilfully misunderstanding or whether you are just thick.

            Christian aren’t “pushing” for anything. The law as it stands is perfectly clear. it is those who advocate that the law should be changed who are “pushing”. So I ask again, why are you try to push your views on others?

          • Jon Sorensen

            Christians pushed their view and made it the law of the land.
            Now they claim that they are not pushing – it is the law.
            LOL logic.

      • Jon Sorensen

        “Don’t PC[?] advocates want their views to apply to everybody?”
        You try nicely to hide the facts? Note how one side what everyone to decide themselves. One side wants everyone to follow their rule.

        • The Explorer

          I’m trying to hide the facts? What facts? Please explain.

          PC advocates: advocates of Political Correctness.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Understand the asymmetric discussion: one side what everyone to decide themselves. One side wants everyone to follow their rule.
            It is not “Same sort of thing”

          • The Explorer

            How many sides are there, and what are they? And is there a side that doesn’t want the other side/sides to believe what it believes?

          • Jon Sorensen

            You can believe what you want. Don’t force others to follow your beliefs. Wasn’t God/Jesus for assisted suicide anyway?

          • The Explorer

            So if I believe theft and murder are okay, society would be wrong to imprison me? Society, after all, would be forcing me to follow its mistaken belief that these things are wrong.

            God/Jesus was for assisted suicide. Explain. And you say ‘was’. Do you mean God has changed His mind since then?

          • Jon Sorensen

            Don’t steal. Don’t do bad things to others. You can take money from your own valet not from someone else’s valet. Do you understand the difference and parallel with suicide?

          • The Explorer

            “You can believe what you want. Don’t force others to follow your beliefs.”

            “Don’t steal. Don’t do bad things to others.”

            Which is it?

          • Jon Sorensen

            No inconsistency there. You confuse belief and action.

          • The Explorer

            I’d say our beliefs influence our actions.

          • Jon Sorensen

            True, but irrelevant to this point and you missed the point

          • The Explorer

            I missed the point because it’s so well hidden. In fact, I still don’t know what it is.

          • Jon Sorensen

            You keep on arguing without knowing the point… 🙁

            Point = “You confuse belief and action”

          • The Explorer

            As with a previous conversation, this is going nowhere. Let’s end it.

    • William Lewis

      This article want discussing religious rights though. It was discussing views of natural law that transcend multiple belief systems and apply universally.

      • Jon Sorensen

        Article explains how Christians want everyone to follow their rules, but they don’t want to follow rule made by others.

        • Er, no it wasn’t! It was establishing the arguments against assisted suicide (i.e. the status quo)

          Since the law currently states that assisted suicide is illegal, why don’t you just shut up and follow the rules. Or is different when you want to be the one setting the rules? Hypocrite.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Yet another angry Christian.. Note how one side what everyone to decide themselves. One side wants everyone to follow their rule. You need to understand that before creating “Hypocrite” strawman.

          • Not in the least bit angry, just astounded – astounded by the lack of consistency & logic in those who would condemn us as being irrational!

            Why is that when Christians make the argument for a law/precept/guideline it is us “imposing our views on others” but when you make the case for a law it’s not – especially as in this instance it is Christian’s arguing why thing shouldn’t be changed. Surely the imperative is for you to say why the law should be changed to impose your opinion on others.

            Your position is the dictionary definition of a hypocrite, not a strawman.

          • Jon Sorensen

            You seem to think that all opinions are equal. The bid difference in “impose your opinion on others” is that one side wants everyone to decide themselves. One side wants everyone to follow their rule. Once you understand that you understand hypocrisy I referred to.

          • You’re really getting this are you. When laws/rules/precepts are made – whether that be in relation to assisted suicide, speed limits, ages of consent, drug taking, fair trading practices, building regulations or anything – someone is “imposing their opinion” on others.

            Saying “everyone can decide for themselves” – beside being incredibly naive – is simply imposing an anarchistic system on the rest of us. What gives you the right to force the rest of us to live in an anarchic system?

            If you genuinely believe there should be an unregulated “right” for people to end each others lives then you are an even bigger idiot than I already think you are. And if you think it should be subject to laws & regulations, who gets to decide what laws & regulations should be “imposed” on the rest of us?

            That’s a rhetorical questions btw – so need to answer it. The answer is, “mine of course”

            The fact that your whole argument is also addressed in Cranmer’s essay shows just how little you have paid attention.

            What do you call someone who accuses people of imposing their beliefs on others whist supporting a change in the law to reflect their own beliefs? That’s right – a hypocrite.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “everyone can decide [assisted suicide] for themselves”
            is not
            “simply imposing an anarchistic system on the rest of us”

            I’m not sure if you understand what “anarchistic system” is.

            Giving one a freedom to choose is not imposing a belief no matter what you claim. It is letting them follow their belief. Why is this so hard to understand for privileged people?

          • “Giving one a freedom to choose is not imposing a belief no matter what you claim”

            Except it is. There is no ideological vacuum. Choosing to delegate the decision making process for certain things is a choice in itself (based on a set of beliefs). And that is the imposition of an ideology (set of beliefs) that others might disagree with. Again, let’s take the arbitrary example of motorway speed limits. Saying, “I believe that everyone should be able to decide themselves” is an imposition of a particular set of beliefs (the belief that people are able to determine what is the appropriate speed for certain situations; that people should be responsible for their own actions; that high speeds might reduce congestion or bring economic benefits etc). You cannot say, “I believe that motorway speed limits should be abolished, but I have no underpinning rationale/principles for believing that”.

            As for the “check your privilege” argument. I’ll treat that with the contempt it deserves. Though it does reflect the real basis of your “argument” – a bigoted antipathy to anything that has the support of a Christian’s worldview.

          • Jon Sorensen

            This is the slave owner complaining about “no ideological vacuum” rather wanting to address the rights. “Motorway speed limits” is of course a false analogy fallacy as your speeding can hurt others.

            Privileged people always down play their privileges and anyone pointing this out get “contempt it deserves” just as in North Korea. And I don’t know what “Christian’s worldview” is. Christians always take both sides of any argument.

        • William Lewis

          Article discusses universal precepts that, by definition, apply to everyone. Surely there are some precepts/laws/rules that you can think of that should be applied to humanity as a whole?

    • carl jacobs

      You are not an autonomous actor. The actions you take in your life cannot be hermetically isolated from those around you. That’s why we have laws to set boundaries on behavior. This argument is not about “rights.” It’s about how to set boundaries on behavior. Your assertion of “right” simply pre-judges the case. You are attempting to preempt any discussion of boundaries by shouting that no one has the authority to set boundaries on the decision in the first place. According to whom?

      The “right to die” embeds into law certain assumptions about the nature and value of life. Those assumption will not just apply to you, and will not simply enable you to kill yourself. They will shape the legal perception of other difficult lives after a utilitarian fashion. You will have set in stone an operational view of value by which others will be judged – others who may not wish to die but who present a financial and emotional burden. It’s not just you who will become subject to that utilitarian standard of evaluation.

      Life is not about indulging your autonomous desire to be happy and independent. Sometimes you have to carry burdens and fulfill obligations not because it makes you happy, but because it establishes a principle that is more important than your individual circumstance. And that means you might have to suffer. We aren’t the autonomous beings we imagine ourselves.

      But we don’t accept that moral reasoning anymore. Today we say “Screw them! It’s all about me. I have a ‘right’ not to suffer, and I have the autonomous power to define suffering for me. If Granny gets off’ed because of it, well too bad for her.” Yes, we are certainly jealous of our rights.

      • Jon Sorensen

        I didn’t “preempt any discussion of boundaries by shouting that no one has the authority” nor was I “shouting”. I just pointed out that Christian position is inconsistent.

        The old “others who may not wish to die but who present a financial and emotional burden” is debunked so many times (see studies from the Netherlands), but I guess this false statement makes a great strawman for Christians.

        • carl jacobs

          Yes. Yes, actually you did. As soon as you invoked the concept of “rights.”

    • CliveM

      When you say dictate, what you actually mean is persuade. That’s democracy chum.

      • Jon Sorensen

        Someone’s human right should not be up to vote.

        • Which human right is that? if you mean the “right to die” then as far as I am aware it is not so much a right as a certainty. So far as human history goes, no-one has to date ever been denied the “right to die” (…I’m assuming you don’t believe the 2 Biblical exceptions of Elijah & Enoch)

          • Jon Sorensen

            Just like slave owner said “Which human right” is freedom?

            Statement:
            “So far as human history goes, no-one has to date ever been denied the “right to die””
            is clearly wrong. In my home town there are people today been denied the “right to die” and cases are in courts.

            Luckily you or your love one doesn’t suffer from painful slow death of cancer. It easy to be against it when it does not touch you.

          • That’s right – I’ve never witnessed a loved one suffer or die!!!

          • I’m back of holiday. And though my better side is telling me to desist, I’m going to give into the temptation and dialogue with the court jester.

            You are wrong (again). No one has EVER been denied the “right to die”. Every graveyard in the world testifies to this. What you are talking about is the “right to be killed”. The people in the court cases you mention WILL die – I guarantee it. They could kill themselves as easily as falling off a log (or a cliff). The court cases aren’t about any “right” to die, but the “right” to chose to die at a time, place & manor specified by them and at the hands of others.

            And a corollary of the universality of death is that at some point almost every one us is likely to see a loved one suffer & die. Some will suffer to a greater extent than others, but unless you are fortunate/unfortunate enough to have a loved one taken away by a very sudden death, the nature of death is that it is often a lprocess of long, gradual decline. So the argument “you don’t know what I’ve been through” is almost always going to be untrue. [I won’t bore you with the details of my father’s early death, or my mother’s current succumbing to cancer]

          • Jon Sorensen

            Yet another angry insulting Christians… misinterpreting what “right to die” we are discussing is, as if killing themselves falling off a cliff is somehow a point here.

        • carl jacobs

          Jon Sorensen

          And yet you said I didn’t preempt any discussion of boundaries by shouting that no one has the authority” nor was I “shouting”.

          No, you just said Someone’s human right should not be up to vote. Because that’s so very different, don’t you see.

          The irony is just too striking to pass by.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Show me the irony or inconsistency. Note that I use the word “should” and I did not set boundaries…

        • CliveM

          Assisted suicide isn’t a human right. We are debating a change in the law, you seem to believe only your view should be promoted. Who is attempting to impose a view on whoem?

          • Jon Sorensen

            @CliveCM:disqus Giving one a freedom to choose is not imposing a belief no matter what you claim. It is letting them follow their belief.

            Just like slave owner said “Which human right” is freedom?

          • CliveM

            As I said assisted suicide isn’t a right. It has been checked in the Courts.

            However assisted suicide doesn’t simply affect the individual wishing it, or the Doctor administering it, it affects the whole of society. It affects the elderly who may come under pressure ‘not to be a burden’ the mentally ill or clinically depressed who likewise feel worthless and because it impacts on society, society has a right to debate the issue from whatever view they hold.

            So please don’t pretend this is simply a matter of individual choice, or of no one else’s business, because that is not true. And if you believe ‘legal safeguards’ will help, do a bit of research. This will show how much the safeguards are worth.

          • Jon Sorensen

            As I said “assisted suicide isn’t a right” just like freedom was not a right during slavery. And slavery was checked in courts too.

            “It affects the elderly who may come under pressure ‘not to be a burden’ the mentally ill or clinically depressed”
            Studies show the opposite, but Christians keep on repeating this…

            And yes ‘legal safeguards’ do help and have worked in Switzerland and the Netherlands, even when you can come up with anecdotes. Most laws are not perfect, so what?

            If you can’t decide your end of life, someone else might. It about rights.

          • CliveM

            “Most laws are not perfect, so what?”

            Talking people lives here. Talking of the risk of people being pressurised into taking their lives, that’s what.

            You haven’t addressed why it’s a human right. Why it is that in Europe, with highly developed Human Right laws, it is not seen as a right. Simply parroting a non equivalent example of a Slave owner doesn’t make an argument. The Slave has no right to debate, dissent, vote or take part in the decision making process.

            Actually thinking about it that’s what you want. You want those who disagree with you to be excluded. Who’s the Slave owner?

  • Orwell Ian

    There used to be an organisation called the Voluntary Euthanasia Society. A title that conveyed mercy killing in a negative way, so it was consigned to the oldspeak dustbin. In was renamed Dignity in Dying. So much more cuddly and reassuring, while conveniently disguising a wider agenda than palliative care.

    D.I.D are pushing the assisted dying bill. In reality it is the assisted suicide bill.
    Any right to die will incrementally extend into a duty to die rather than be a burden and even that might not remain consensual. This prospect is causing consternation among the vulnerable and disabled who are acutely aware of the gradient of this slippery slope.

    Disabled comedian and actress Liz Carr said:

    I am terrified by this bill. I am terrified because as a disabled person I have experienced first-hand how poorly our society values disabled people. It’s the same with elderly people. I’m always been told, ‘If I was like you I’d kill myself’. ‘If I was like you I’d want to die.’ There are people who sincerely believe that people like me are better off dead. But I don’t want to die. And to talk about choice when so many vulnerable and disabled people do not have a choice about basic care, housing and support is to put us in a very dangerous position indeed.

    • … but are the Liz Carr’s of this world intended to escape the abortion net?

      • Orwell Ian

        I think it was only at the age of 7 that Liz Carr was diagnosed with a very rare, obscure illness and at 11 was told she would need a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Nevertheless you make a very good point. Those whose disability is detected in the womb are probably the most vulnerable of all.

        • In a future world, it’s conceivable parents of children like Liz Carr may determine it’s “best” to “save” them from future “suffering” and end their lives. Or, these children could request death themselves and have their wishes met.

          • Orwell Ian

            Indeed. A bleak and dark future may await the dysgenic.

  • Anton

    Only a very small proportion of people who suffer such distressing and horrible terminal illnesses wish to promote their own death. And, of that small proportion, only a further very small proportion are – let’s not be squeamish – incapable of committing suicide without the help of others.

    Perhaps I’m in a minority myself, but I would not be too unhappy if a lethal dose of barbiturate were to be rigged up so that the person could activate it by blinking. But the final decision and action would have to be taken by the person, and I certainly do not wish to see the law changed to something that has been abused in other countries based on the wishes of a small minority of a small minority.

    • “Perhaps I’m in a minority myself, but I would not be too unhappy if a lethal dose of barbiturate were to be rigged up so that the person could activate it by blinking.”

      So, would you be willing to rig this self murder contraption up?

      • Anton

        In certain circumstances, yes.

        • … and they are?

          • dannybhoy

            It seems to me what you are pointing out is that we shouldn’t contemplate these matters because at the end of the day we don’t want the guilt that goes with it.
            It’s easier to shake our heads over the sufferings of others than think about how we could enable people to end their lives so that it is their choice and they action it.
            The problem I have with the ‘all life is sacrosant’ argument is that in the case of a just war we may kill another person. In the cause of a just war we may drop bombs, killing many people.
            If we don’t stop the man with a knife he may just slash our wife or child to death..
            If we are all born as God intended, then when surgeons perform corrective or life saving surgery, they are actually going against what God created..

          • None of those arguments offer a defence of the intrinsically evil act of self murder or assisting in self murder, quite the reverse.
            Self defence and the just war theory rest on a duty to preserve innocent life. Improving life through surgery is also a testament and affirmation of life.

          • Anton

            Deeply dependent on the personal dynamics of the situation. You wanted to know if I would ever be prepared to do that and my answer is Yes.

          • dannybhoy

            Honest answer Anton.

          • … avoidance, more like.

          • dannybhoy

            Unfair Jack.
            We don’t know what Anton is thinking or facing, or how much this has weighed on his heart.
            I hate operations, I have no wish to know what the surgeon intends to do and I don’t much care for wounds and blood..
            And yet..in certain situations I can do this for other people. I can act to rescue them or stop them bleeding.
            I have cleaned up the young and elderly when they’ve been doubly incontinent, because it needed doing, and I tried to do it in such a way as to preserve their dignity.

          • … and what has that to do with helping a person kill themselves?

          • dannybhoy

            Only that people who have worked with some of the more tragic aspects of life do so out of compassion and will have reflected on these issues. To say it’s “helping a person kill themselves” may help you distance yourself from the situation.
            It may help you feel morally justified in doing nothing and letting that person continue in physical pain and misery, but it also means that nothing changes.

          • Why assume Jack has not witnessed life ending suffering in his professional and personal life? It has nothing to do with Jack’s personal feelings and his empathy, or lack there of, for suffering. You are simply being emotive and using this to set aside scripture. This is how compromising with evil starts – and evil is insatiable.

          • Anton

            Jack, being more constructive than in our exchange above, here is what I think is the best Christian article I know on suicide, from the website of the Christian Medical Fellowship:

            http://www.cmf.org.uk/publications/content.asp?context=article&id=1365

            It is a chapter from a longer essay on (I think ) the subject of this thread; I’ve not read the rest. To this chapter I would add only that Mosaic Law does not prescribe any penalty for
            people who attempt suicide and fail, nor for the families of suicides. I think that the phrase “self-murder” which you use for it is an oxymoron; I’d accept “self-manslaughter”.

            For the avoidance of doubt I have not attempted suicide, nor have any close friends or relatives. Thank God.

          • This article dances around and avoids the issue too and ends by debating the right to refuse treatment.
            It makes this point:

            “The crucial Christian emphasis in this debate is not that we are created beings, but that it is GOD who has created us. …. Most importantly, a person’s right to life is conferred to them by God and not by one’s parents, partner or the rest of society.

            More importantly, this right is a unilateral contract between God and man and is therefore non-negotiable.”
            Fine, but then it loses focus and asks:
            “However, the question remains ‘Are there ever circumstances which render it legitimate to end one’s own life?’ The ancient Jews and early Christians clearly thought so.”
            A conclusion the article fails to support.

          • Anton

            But you haven’t made any argument that a man who finds his life too unbearable is not free to hand it back to God.

          • Of course Jack has. It’s the whole point of all the arguments and scripture quotes he has provided. It is not “our life” to “hand back” to God because life is “unbearable”, is it?

          • Anton

            Of course it is. It is a gift from God.

          • It is a “gift” that has a Divine, eternal purpose. What is the nature of this “gift” and what obligations come with it, Anton?

            Remember the words of the Psalm: “What is man, O Lord, that thou art mindful of him? Thou has created him a little lower than the angels, higher than the animals.”

            We are losing sight of what man is and we no longer stand in awe and reverence of human life.

          • Anton

            Why can’t you bear not to put the word Gift in inverted commas?

            I entirely agree with your past sentence/paragraph. But that is not the point.

          • They are quotation marks, Anton.
            And the point is that God gives us the gift of life for a purpose.

          • Anton

            Which you claim to know better than the deeply unhappy.

          • It’s the Christian Gospel, Anton.
            Jack wishes suffering on no one. But when it comes, is our only response to be to eliminate it, even to the point of suicide? You tell me whether this is the Gospel.

          • Anton

            Suicide is a matter between the person and God and is not your business. There is a world of difference between killing someone without their consent, whether murder or manslaughter, and suicide which is trivially consensual. They are so different that I believe they cannot be categorised together and that the Law of Moses is silent on suicides. Certainly no sanctions are prescribed on failed suicides (and if you don’t find my comment funny about capital punishment for them, it wasn’t meant to be). Where God is silent, man might be wise to be the same.

          • Frankly, only the blind would consider God silent on self-rasha and would describe suicide as “trivially consensual”.

            As for the Law of Moses being “silent on suicides”, perhaps that’s because certain things do not have to be stated. And Jack notes too that Orthodox Judaism widely regards suicide to avoid pain if one is dying as wrong, although the Talmud, as ever, offers a range of opinions. However, assisting in suicide and requesting such assistance, thereby creating an accomplice to a sinful act, is forbidden. It is seen as a violation of Leviticus 19:14 (“Do not put a stumbling block before the blind”), which prohibits tempting another to sin.

          • dannybhoy

            Hello Jack.
            I didn’t say anything about your own experiences or lack of them. Only that those who have or do work in these situations see how it is.
            You say I am being “emotive.”
            Well of course I am!
            Emotions are a part of what it means to be human, Compassion and the ability to empathise are not bad things Jack. Without those qualities there would be a lot fewer people working in the medical and caring professions.

            I already said that Scripture has to guide us, but that does not means we don’t reflect and question. The book of Job illustrates that very well.

          • Er, read what you wrote again …. slowly ….. and its sub-text.

          • dannybhoy

            “I didn’t say anything about your own experiences or lack of them. Only
            that those who have or do work in these situations see how it is.”

            You mean the second sentence? If so I agree. It doesn’t say what I meant to say, which was essentially a repeat of this earlier sentence..
            “Only that people who have worked with some of the more tragic aspects of
            life do so out of compassion and will have reflected on these issues.”

          • That earlier sentence isn’t any better, Danny.

          • dannybhoy

            What isn’t better about it – or more perhaps more to the point, what is it you are unhappy about?
            It can’t be that you disapprove of my experience of working in care situations, so it must be the questions that those experiences raised in my thinking..?

          • You are imply a special insight, over Happy Jack, triggered by your compassion and direct experience.

            Then you throw this at Happy Jack: “To say it’s “helping a person kill themselves” may help you distance yourself from the situation.
            It may help you feel morally justified in doing nothing and letting that person continue in physical pain and misery, but it also means that nothing changes.”

            You are suggesting Jack has no direct experience of helping people dying in pain, that his position lacks compassion because he has not thought it through and that he is ignoring the pain suffered by others.

            Apart from being inaccurate, that is neither a reasoned nor moral argument in favour of euthanasia.

          • dannybhoy

            No, before God I am not implying or intending to imply a special insight Jack.
            What I am saying is that in working in these situations I found myself questioning and reappraising what I was brought up to believe.
            For example as I have said before, I don’t believe we are born as God intended. I know what King David wrote etc., but I do not believe that God decreed that people should be born crippled or deformed or lacking something or having an extra something.
            I believe all of that is as a result of our fallen world, but that God loves us as we are.
            So whilst I have no doubt about the nature of God I think it is perfectly acceptable to ask questions about life and death and how we deal with it.

          • The way you posed the question suggested an answer. For Happy Jack this is a moral and religious question about God’s Sovereignty over our lives and His Providence. Read the Book of Job.

          • dannybhoy

            It’s thinking out loud in a Christian forum, and looking at all the facets of an issue.
            It depends on what you mean by the sovereignty of God and His providence.
            To me there is a danger in accepting things unquestioningly, which is why I question what goes in in Anglicanism.
            (As I know you do..)
            If we accept everything as God ordained, than we are no different from those who believe that God can be whoever He wants to be and do whatever He wants to do.
            Come let us reason together, saith the Lord..
            Finally I think it was me who suggested that you read Job…!

          • Yes, but some issues have already been conclusively answered and man’s endless questioning always offers fresh opportunities for evil to creep in.
            Scripture makes is abundantly clear that our lives are not our own to live as we choose or abort when as we choose. His injunction against taking life: “Thou shalt not Murder”, i.e. taking a life in objective defiance of God’s Sovereignty, whatever we persuade ourselves to believe our motive might be.
            It’s a vote of “no confidence” in God. It’s pride.
            Eve, under demonic persuasion, wanted to convince herself God didn’t really mean what He said about the Tree and its fruit. Or, maybe, Adam had misunderstood. Knowledge and wisdom was a good thing and, anyway, even if He meant it; who is He?
            We have a capacity to comprehend God’s design, His will for us and our good. We have the freedom to reject God outright. Worse perhaps, we also have this natural ability to persuade ourselves that what we want and how we intend to get it, really is all right with God because our hearts are in the right place and our intent is noble.
            And so it starts ….
            The inevitable moral decline leading from an occasional abortion to save a woman’s life to industrialised abortion. And from helping a tormented, terminally ill person to kill themselves to euthanasia on demand and by proxy from ones loved one’s.

          • dannybhoy

            Yes, but some issues have already been conclusively answered and man’s endless questioning always offers fresh opportunities for evil to creep in.

            Also true, and I appreciate your concern for me as a fellow Christian that I don’t go off the rails.
            The thing is though, that supposing all the great men and women of Christian influenced Western culture had not questioned what was..
            Nicholas Copernicus
            Edward Jenner
            Louis Pasteur
            Isaac Newton
            Alexander Fleming
            Marie Curie
            Wilhelm Roentgen

            …to name just a few.
            We all benefit from these things and accept them as a part of every day life.
            My point is that I am concerned by the suffering of individuals and not just physically but socially. in terms of self worth and being valued.
            I am concerned about how we the Church treat homosexuals and seek to understand them, without abandoning the Scriptural admonishment that although God loves all men, homosexuality is a sin.

            It is very easy to trot out,
            “Well God in the Scriptures say this is wrong – that is wrong” and leave it at that. It might be comforting to say,
            “Well, them’s the rules…”
            but the fact is we have all benefitted from discoveries made by looking outside of that particular box. Isn’t that so?
            I would never do anything that God’s word says is wrong, but then I also know that there are people who are homosexuals who want to worship and and serve God. They don’t know why they are gay; only that they are. Did God decree that they should be born gay?
            I think not.
            Did God decree that people be born with bits missing or extra bits?
            Again, I think not.
            Because God is Holy and righteous and compassionate, and He does not play games with us.
            So we have to reflect on these issues and what the implications are, don’t we?

          • Yes … question away … if it deepens our love and knowledge of God. He’s commanded us to do this. Build on the past by all means. Stay true to those insights into God and understandings of His moral principles gleaned by our Christian forbearers gleaned. Reflect on how to develop and apply the Commandments of God to modern challenges. However, if our questioning leads us off the path of accepting God wants us to follow His will and not our own, then we’re going astray.
            The very first “thou shalt not”, right after worshipping God and honouring our parents:
            “Thou shalt do no murder”.
            Our lives belong to God.
            There’s plenty of good literature on the >i>the problem of physical and moral evil” that addresses those concerns you’ve raised.

          • Anton

            Of what?

          • … giving an answer.

          • Anton

            I am not knowingly being evasive in that reply.

          • And how could your actions be deemed compatible with scripture?

          • Royinsouthwest

            Don’t you think his motives would be relevant?

          • No, Jack doesn’t.

          • Royinsouthwest

            But God judges the heart, even if you don’t!

          • Of course. We are discussing objective sin – not subjective culpability.

          • Anton

            With which scriptures do you consider them incompatible?

          • The Bible tells us that we are not to murder. Murder is the unlawful taking of life, and killing is the lawful taking of life. If a nation legalises euthanasia, on a human level it would not be regarded as murder but it would be in contradiction to the Bible.

            We are to obey God rather than men: “Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!” “
            (Acts 5:29).

            We are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), and it is the Lord God who gives us life (Job 33:4) and who has numbered our days (Job 14:5). God is our Sovereign Lord who determines the day that we die; we are not to usurp God’s authority.

            “You shall not murder.”
            (Exodus 20:13)

            “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”
            (Genesis 9:6)

            “In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”
            (Job 12:10)

            “‘See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no God beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.”
            (Deuteronomy 32:39)

          • Anton

            It’s not murder, Jack; please reply to this point where I’ve also made it in another response to you.

          • It is murder Anton.

          • Anton

            Please define murder. NB There are two words in Hebrew, and it is murder rather than kill that appears in the 10 Commandments – possibly the worst error of the King James translators.

          • The word used in the Commandments is “Rasha” which defies translation but is widely understood to mean:

            wicked, criminal
            hostile to God
            guilty of sin against God or man

          • Anton

            I do not agree that you can regard the deliberate killing of someone against his will, which is the definition of murder, as equivalent to suicide.

          • Who says that is the scriptural definition of “Rasha”, as opposed to a legal one?

            Man does not have the right to “consent” to his own premature death as he does not have sovereignty over his life – God does. Essentially, suicide and assisted suicide denies God His sovereign right to appoint who dies and when. It is a right that belongs to God alone.

          • Anton

            I repeat that self-murder is a contradiction in terms; self-manslaughter isn’t. if a man finds his life so unbearable that he wishes to had it back to God, who are we to judge?

          • … or help? Remember, you would be willing to facilitate this act of self-rasha.

            Suicide is self-murder, Anton.

            Jack is not judging the immortal souls of those who take their own lives – God will do that. Nevertheless, whatever the subjective situation, or the moral culpability of the individual, objectively it is always an offence against God.

          • Anton

            Repeating yourself does not prove it. There is no such thing as self-murder, which is a contradiction in terms. Self-manslaughter, yes. I have thought my position through and am not frightened by what you say. You are behaving like the Inquisition here.

          • You’re playing with words, Anton.

            Manslaughter
            “The unjustifiable, inexcusable, and intentional killing of a human being without deliberation, premeditation, and malice.

            The unlawful killing of a human being without any deliberation, which may be involuntary, in the commission of a lawful act without due caution and circumspection.”

            The essential distinction between the two offenses is that malice aforethought must be present for murder, whereas it must be absent for manslaughter. Manslaughter is not as serious a crime as murder. On the other hand, it is not a justifiable or excusable killing for which little or no punishment is imposed.

            At Common Law, as well as under current statutes, the offense can be either voluntary or involuntary Manslaughter. The main difference between the two is that voluntary manslaughter requires an intent to kill or cause serious bodily harm while involuntary manslaughter does not. Premeditation or deliberation, however, are elements of murder and not of manslaughter.

          • Anton

            I am not playing with words. The assumption in those definitions is that one person is killing, accidentally or deliberately, another. You seem determined to ignore the crucial difference between that and suicide.

            You could always pass a law that attempted suicide is a capital offence, of course.

          • Not funny …. and Jack has heard it before.

            Jack is more concerned that our society is denying the sovereignty of God and usurping His role over matters of life and death.

            So are you now conceding that assisting a person to kill themselves (by rigging up that contraption you referred to earlier) is assisted self murder or, if you prefer, assisted self- manslaughter?

          • Anton

            My position has not changed during the course of this discussion.

          • Anton, Jack has never known your position to change – ever.
            In summary, you claim man can legitimately return the gift of life back to God by killing himself if he so chooses – presumably without eternal consequence. You also consider suicide to be self manslaughter and judge premeditated assistance in this killing to be morally acceptable.

          • Anton

            Only in some circumstances. Otherwise, Yes, and what you are determinedly ignoring is the difference between killing someone else and killing yourself and the matter of consent.

          • You seriously believe the taking of one’s own life to avoid the suffering of illness or psychological despair is morally acceptable and compatible with the Gospel?

          • Anton

            I am actually more concerned here with what the law of our land should be, which is the matter of this thread. The New Testament portrays committed believers as having a contented inner life even under great external pressure from the world, in which case suicide should not be an issue. It is an issue for the world, however.

          • Oh please ….

            Are you seriously suggesting that true Christians never suffer depression or are never tempted by suicide? If so, Jack can reliably inform you are wrong.

            Earlier, you indicted you would assist a person in ending their own life. How do you square this with your Christian faith?

            So far as Jack is concerned, objectively suicide is a very grave sin against the love of God, the love of oneself and the love of one’s neighbour. An individual’s moral culpability for suicide may be diminished by mental illness or other circumstances. As the Catholic Catechism states: “Grave psychological disturbances, anguish or grave fear of hardship, suffering or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.” However, this is not an argument in favour of legalising and morally sanctioning the assistance of someone in this act.

          • Anton

            “Are you seriously suggesting that true Christians never suffer depression or are never tempted by suicide? If so, Jack can reliably inform you are wrong.”

            No, Jack, I am not. That would be devoid of grace and compassion and also contrary to one or two Christians I know, while many remain on anti-depressants. But I must not compromise with the fact that the New Testament portrays committed believers as having a contented inner life even under great external pressure from the world – far greater pressures than most Christians experience in our society, in which there is no really serious persecution and almost nobody goes hungry. The promises of the New Testament are as valid today as then. I cannot reconcile these two things at present but I am not going to deny that there is an issue here.

            With respect – and I mean it literally on this occasion – you seem to be taking a legalistic rather than a grace-fuelled view of all of this. Telling a man who is thinking of jumping off a bridge to repent is not going to help. You apparently read that article on the Christian Medical Fellowship website with one point in mind: What did it have to say about the sinfulness of suicide? But I posted it as simply as information – good information I believe – and it was not written as a theological discourse on the sinfulness (or not) of suicide.

            I can’t accept analogies with the killing of a person who doesn’t want to die by another person, whether it be categorised as murder or manslaughter. The issue of consent is vital here. I am not aware that it was explicitly treated by the rabbis or the scholastics, but if so then I’d be pleased to learn what they say.

            Please consider this as a response also to your other reply to me here on the subject.

          • “Telling a man who is thinking of jumping off a bridge to repent is not going to help. “
            No, and nor is giving him a leg up or a push to help him on his way. Jack never suggested attempting to evangelise a suffering or dying person contemplating suicide.
            The basic points we disagree on is whether man has God given right to end his own life and whether it is morally licit to provide assistance to him in doing so. Jack is clear and certain usurping the timing of one’s death constitutes a profound rebellion against God, who is absolutely sovereign in this, and so objectively it is gravely sinful.
            God, in His mercy and His justice, will judge individual culpability – not man and certainly not Jack – but suicide is objectively a grave sin that breaks our union with Christ. It is one, if committed with full presence of mind, will result in damnation unless the person repents before drawing their last breath.
            You will need to ask Avi for rabbinical references but Jack believes the consensus within Orthodox Judaism is similar to the Catholic position that Jack has outlined.

          • Anton

            I am grateful for the reference but I take Catholic tradition on this about as seriously as the Catholic church takes Talmud ie Jewish tradition. Ther seem to be to be an awful lot of specious “therefore/hence”s in that. But the point I have failed to convey, and that is beyond my powers of eloquence to convey, is that all of this is RULES, ie Law. You talk of what is licit. Do you understand what I am trying, not very clearly, to say? It is not, by the way, about creating “legal wiggle room”.

          • Actually, we’re talking about man’s relationship with His Creator. And Jack wouldn’t dismiss the writings of Augustine or Aquinas as logically “specious” unless you can counter them with rational and scriptural arguments.

            And since you ask, Jack doesn’t get at all where you’re coming from on this. If you’re suggesting a Christian is saved by grace alone, and ending one’s own life will have no eternal consequences, because God’s law doesn’t apply, then Jack would object most strongly.

          • Anton

            I’m not. Grace is more subtle than that, and subtler than I can convey.

          • So what are you saying?

            This argument of Aquinas, and it is essentially supported by Orthodox Judaism, seems definitive to Jack:

            “…. because life is God’s gift to man, and is subject to His power, Who kills and makes to live. Hence whoever takes his own life, sins against God, even as he who kills another’s slave, sins against that slave’s master, and as he who usurps to himself judgment of a matter not entrusted to him. For it belongs to God alone to pronounce sentence of death and life, according to Deuteronomy 32:39, “I will kill and I will make to live.”

          • Anton

            What I am trying to say, I have not tongue to say, nor you ears to hear; yet I am confident of it. Every blessing.

          • That’s one way of ending the conversation …. Jack must remember that line too.
            Until next time.

          • avi barzel

            Between1841 and 196 attempted suicide in Britain was a capital offence.

          • Anton

            O, do ask Jack if he approves!

  • dannybhoy

    Lord Jesus bless that poor woman Chantal Sabire, and please either heal her or allow her to die with dignity.
    I think people should be allowed to end their lives according to professional medical opinion and the consent of their family. It should not be the State’s prerogative but the State should recognise the right of the citizen who are terminally ill or trapped in their body with no hope of recovery to end their life. It should be a private thing overseen by people of integrity and accountability. No one should profit from it.

    It is all very well for people to say it shouldn’t happen, but if no one is willing to give their time and energy to improve the lot of the terminally ill or make them feel valued, then this is surely a better way..

    • What’s your moral basis for: “think(ing) people should be allowed to end their lives according to professional medical opinion and the consent of their family”?

      • dannybhoy

        My moral basis is that if a person is in such pain and misery without any chance of healing, what grounds do I have to say that they must endure their suffering because suicide is wrong?
        If you’ve done everything possible for that person medically and given them as much emotional counselling and comfort as you can, you’ve offered them spiritual help and they refuse because they do not believe, and they still want to end their life then a way should exist for them to do so.

        • Would you assist a person to kill themselves?

          • dannybhoy

            I think I’ve answered that below, Jack. What I would be willing to do is take part in discussions with all kinds of people around the whole issue -including Jame’s insights, and see if we could come up with a solution that addresses our own concerns and those of the people who simply want to die.

            Looking at that poor woman Chantal Sabire, what possible value is there in her suffering? Has God ordained she should suffer so? I don’t believe so. If there is no way she can be operated on to relieve her suffering, what would you do to help her?

          • Your letting understandable human emotions get in the way of objective morality. This is precisely what happens when Christian morality confronts the reality of daily suffering. It’s what’s behind so many concessions to manifest evil.
            What would Jack do? There’s no way he would cooperate in an intrinsically evil action – be it through word or deed. He would do what he could to relieve her physical pain and keep her as comfortable as possible, pray, leaving the rest to God.

          • dannybhoy

            Jack I believe my ‘understandable human emotions’ stem from my being made in the image of God. That were Jesus here he would heal that person.
            But as Christians we also know that for whatever reasons very few miracles do occur. We know that not just Christians are moved by a sense of compassion for others and that is why we have surgeons, doctors and nurses all working to help improve our health and well-being.
            It seems to me that in a fallen world there are all kinds of moral conundrums to wrestle with, and in our generation the fact that medical advances mean more possibilities, the decisions we face weren’t there for our ancestors who didn’t have the same knowledge and skills.
            I really take on board the issue of staying with our Christian values, but there have been many times in our Western Christian development when decisions had to be made or unmade as knowledge has increased.

          • Now you’re sounding like a modernist.

            What “knowledge” has “increased” that denies God is sovereign over matters of life and death?

            Jack would say the following principles are morally binding, regardless of contingent circumstances:

            – First, to make an attempt on the life of or to kill an innocent person is an evil action.
            – Second, each person is bound to lead his life in accord with God’s plan and with an openness to His will, looking to life’s fulfillment in heaven.
            – Third, intentionally committing suicide is a murder of oneself and considered a rejection of God’s plan.

          • dannybhoy

            – First, to make an attempt on the life of or to kill an innocent person is an evil action.
            It’s not making an attempt on their life if it’s the person themselves that wants to end it.

            – Second, each person is bound to lead his life in accord with God’s
            plan and with an openness to His will, looking to life’s fulfillment in heaven.

            It’s one thing if the person has faith, quite another if they hate or have rejected religion.

          • Ah, so you’d only allow atheists the “right to die”, and only help those who had no faith to die, would you?

    • James60498 .

      I have some sympathy for that argument, and how could anyone have anything but sympathy for Chantal Sabire.

      I also note that as a pro-lifer I argue that the baby should have the “right to life” and that he/she is not given any choice in the matter.

      Therefore being reasonable I have to consider that if an adult chooses that they no longer wish to live then I should take notice of that request.

      However.

      1. It is very clearly the case that in countries and jurisdictions where euthanasia is allowed, it becomes less and less voluntary as it becomes more a part of life.
      In the same way that abortion has become more acceptable to many even those who wouldn’t consider it for their own baby.

      2. I spent many years working in the Care Home sector. I came across a number of relatives whose only wish was to get their hands on any money going. Also many other situations where relatives even though they lived close by never visited. How many of these people would be encouraged to “take a pill” to get themselves out of the way “to help the family out”?

      The current bill in Parliament is using as its excuse a case where the person himself is not dying. It is all based on lies.

      Do you really think that those who die will be those who really want to?

      • dannybhoy

        I understand what you’re saying there. I have also worked with the elderly and those with multiple physical and mental disabilities. I have seen the distress and trauma some of these situations bring on parents and families. I totally agree with you about abortion, and although I am against abortion on demand, I am still not yet convinced that rape victims or those carrying a child without limbs or missing an organ or has part of what should be inside outside, should be allowed to decide without condemnation.

        Naturally society does not know very much about these situations because after all who wants to think too much about suffering disease and death?
        I can’t fully answer your last point at the moment because truthfully my focus is on the person who is suffering, rather than those who might want to benefit from their death.
        My immediate reaction though, is to say that there must be a way in which the dignity of the individual is protected so that no one feels under pressure to pop their clogs. Because if as you point out euthanasia became less voluntary and more mandatory then what sort of society would we have become anyway?
        It’s not the world God designed, people are not born the way God originally designed Man to be, and elderly men and women should not feel that their life has no meaning. But we are where we are and as Christians we have to seek to reconcile all these things with our faith.

      • dannybhoy
    • Linus

      Chantal Sébire took her own life by overdose in 2008.

      It was such a sad case and, apart from a few noisy and self-publicising Catholics like our then minister of housing Christine Boutin (she of the incestuous marriage contracted without a papal dispensation), and the usual “vieux schnocks et fachos” of the extreme right, public opinion was strongly in favour of according this poor woman what she was pleading for: a dignified release from her unspeakable suffering.

      As our lives belong to us and not some mythical sky fairy, we’re at perfect liberty to decide when we want to end them. Such a decision should never be taken lightly, because suicide can have such a terrible effect on others. But cases like that of Mme Sébire make it crystal clear that nobody should be forced to go through what she had to, in the name of a dead morality and a decaying religion that still pollutes our laws and customs despite more than two centuries of separation of the State and the Church.

      In the words of Voltaire: “écrasez l’infâme !” For the sake of future Chantal Sébires, we owe it to ourselves to do just that.

      • Thank you, Linus.

        Jack suspected you’d be along with your “our lives belong to us and not some mythical sky fairy” argument and the antichristian position that moral objections are simply based on an absence of compassion and a “dead morality and a decaying religion that still pollutes our laws and customs.”

      • Inspector General

        One has no doubt that God would have welcomed her soul after her suffering.

        For those on this blog who would disapprove of what the tragic lady did, perhaps they can find some comfort in that she presumably did not live long enough for the pressure inside her head to pop out an eyeball.

        • Inspector, before canonising the woman, Jack advises you read the Wiki account. The woman refused all treatment when first diagnosed and declined morphine for the relief of pain.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chantal_S%C3%A9bire

          Her public demand was not for the “right to die” but to be assisted in this by French doctors. Do remember that Ms Sebire was asking for the right to be assisted to die, not the right to die itself. We all have that so-called ‘right’. France was one of the first countries to legalise suicide in 1790. There was little to prevent Ms Sebire from taking her own life, quietly, out of the limelight – and she took that option in the end.

          • Inspector General

            Thank you for the link, Jack. It is hard to dissemble what her aims were from that. One’s general approach still stands, though obviously not on this particular case.

          • Google the French case of Georgette and Bernard Cazes, Inspector. Truly, there’s grave evil afoot in the name of “compassion”, Sir.

            Have a read of Mundabor on these issues. He has covered a number of these high profile and very public suicides. Be warned, he pulls no punches,

            https://mundabor.wordpress.com/tag/euthanasia/

          • Inspector General

            One regrets that as a working man, time is short. But thank you Jack.

          • Much more informative and far better for the soul than rooting around in PN, Inspector. Perhaps an article a day?

  • Johnny Rottenborough

    The Church of England’s belief that ‘Every person’s life is of immeasurable value’ does not appear to be shared by the other Abrahamic faiths.

    The Qur’an describes Muslims as ‘the noblest nation that has ever been raised up for mankind’ (3:110) and non-Muslims as ‘the vilest of all creatures’ (98:6).

    Stephen Steinlight writes (under the sub-heading ‘Jews and Identity Politics’ in this article): ‘I was taught the superiority of my people to the gentiles who had oppressed us…people less sensitive, intelligent, and moral than ourselves.’ On page 329 of Separation and Its Discontents, Kevin MacDonald quotes a passage from Israel Shahak’s Jewish History, Jewish Religion about the Chabad movement, which describes non-Jews as ‘totally satanic creatures in whom there is absolutely nothing good’ and sees the very existence of a non-Jew as ‘inessential’.

    • CliveM

      Which is irrelevant to the topic in question.

      • Johnny Rottenborough

        @ CliveM—At some time, Britain is likely to become a majority Muslim country. Her health service will be staffed by Muslims who see the rest of us as lower than animals. There’s your relevance.

        • avi barzel

          And to make that point stick you, for some reason, spread misinformation by quoting fellow antisemites, lunatics and slanderers.

          • magnolia

            All faiths have their lunatic fringes and even associated criminals who do not represent the core nor core beliefs and with whom none of the mainstream would wish to associate. Most of us, I think, take that as given. Not sure Johnny has realized as much yet.

  • Inspector General

    The Inspector is a man of independence. He also feels that others should be the same. If the woman had decided old age isn’t for her, let her go. She was of no importance. One offs never are. For others of the same mind-set, and assuming they are not an orphan and has loved ones about them, we’ll leave it to them to explain their remarkable selfishness to said gathering. And of course, to those powers at their spiritual judgement.

    Now, he feels greatly for the cancer afflicted lady there on the left. How her case came to court is rather a mystery as all she needs is to change physician and find one who is more ‘sympathetic’ to her dreadful plight. One who would gladly help her on her way out rather sooner than nature’s appointed time. In other words, a physician of independence.

    There are occasions when an understanding nod and a wink will suffice, and little need be said. Before, during and after. This is one of them. And importantly, nobody outside the doctor / patient confidentiality need be any the wiser.

    • If you were this lady’s doctor you’d help her on her way with a “nod and a wink”, would you?

      • Inspector General

        It is not for God alone to mete out mercy. Mankind has the prerogative too. One recalls hearing of the helplessly dreadfully wounded on the battlefield crying to be finished off. Their comrades obliged. A compassion we can thank providence we have never had to know ourselves.

        • Well, there’s the emotive argument right there for the “right to die”. Terminally ill cancer suffers are, after all, “dead already”. It’s just a matter of time. Let’s be “merciful” and help them on their way.

          We do not have a “right to die” – or the “right” to put someone out of their misery. A “right” is a moral claim. We do not have a claim on death; death has a claim on us. We do not decide when our life will end, any more than we decide when it begins. Much less does someone else have the “right” to end our life. We do have a right to is proper care. It is never “care” to terminate life. And even if that life is full of suffering, we have no right to terminate life.

          • Inspector General

            A rules man you are. Rigid to the last. Don’t get this man wrong, if the whole thing was enshrined in law, it would be disastrous. But just rejoice that we can go about doing what at times must be done without anyone knowing.

          • Jack takes God’s word seriously, Inspector.

          • Inspector General

            One understands we do have some slack cut us.

          • Of course … but publically promoting and’/or encouraging grave evil probably isn’t permitted …. probably. It weakens resolve. Though in these times of “Who am I to judge?” it becomes easy to lose one’s way.

          • Royinsouthwest

            The Inspector was not talking about “right.” He was talking about mercy – a point you have ignored.

          • True and Jack was merely alluding to the emotive misuse of mercy as justification for legislation supporting the “right” to die.

          • Linus

            Birth and death are two very different things and the morality of each is very different.

            We do not choose to be born. It’s an involuntary process that can only happen to us rather than being chosen.

            Death on the other hand can be voluntary or involuntary. If we choose not to die, death will still come to us at some point. But unlike birth, we do have the choice of controlling the time, place and, to a certain extent, manner of our dying.

            It’s this choice that makes a mockery out of the Christian attitude to suicide. Our lives are not God’s to do with as he wishes. If they were, we’d all be “Captain Jacks” (the John Barrowman character in that quaint British TV series “Doctor Who”). We could kill ourselves over and over and over again and never die. But when we decide to take our life and act on that decision, we die just as completely and irrevocably as anyone whose life was ended in a manner not of their choosing. There’s no difference between the corpse of a cancer patient and the corpse of a suicide. Each is just as dead as the other.

            The reality of the situation is that, God or no God, our lives are our own to do with as we see fit. If there’s no God, then we are sovereign and can act as we choose. If there is a God, then by making us capable of suicide, he has placed sovereignty in our hands (at least in this matter) and it’s up to us to do with it what we wish.

            The case of Mme Sébire illustrates this well. It is not true that she refused treatment when her cancer was diagnosed. She refused her physician’s prescribed treatment of surgery followed by chemotherapy, because she regarded the drugs she would have to take as “chemical” and therefore poisonous, and was convinced they would do her more harm than good. She did however opt for homeopathic treatment, thereby showing a desire to overcome her illness and be cured.

            Whether you share my opinion of the utter uselessness of homeopathy or not, Mme Sébire was clearly convinced of its efficacy, and clearly convinced that she was taking the right course of action. She staked her life on it, after all.

            When the “treatment” she opted for failed to yield the hoped-for results and the cancer had progressed to a point where traditional medicine could do nothing for her, Mme Sébire requested assistance to help her carry out the ultimate act of personal sovereignty. Her hope was that being assisted by medical professionals would minimise any suffering the act of suicide might entail. That she continued right up until the end to hope that homeopathy would save her is evidenced by her refusal to accept palliative care. She was convinced that any drug she might take would interfere with the operation of her homeopathic remedies and take away any chance she might still have of a last-minute cure.

            In the end Mme Sébire was forced to face reality and take her own life by ingesting illegally obtained barbiturates. She had bet on the efficacy of homeopathy and lost that bet, but in doing so had acted no more negligently than any Catholic who goes to Lourdes in the hope that cold water from a granite spring will somehow cure all manner of physical ailments. Or any vegan who thinks that mung beans and grass juice are the solution for every health problem known to Man. We’re all free to exercise our vanity by favouring what we believe over the cold, hard facts of medical science. But we need to understand that in doing so, we’ll have to assume the consequences of our own folly.

            Mme Sébire chose to sacrifice her life to her unfounded belief in homeopathy. A Christian might have relied on prayer, and a vegetarian on multi-vitamins and chick peas. They all have one thing in common though: the dogmatic belief that their solutions are the only solutions.

            That belief cost Mme Sébire her life, although at the very end she at least took control and ended that life in a manner that avoided the very worst consequences of refusing medical treatment. She had asked for assistance in ending her life – assistance that would probably not have been necessary had she not refused treatment in the first place. And that assistance was refused on the grounds that she had made her choice and must now live – or die – by it. That she would die was never in question. The question was, should the State help her to cut short her sufferings by assisting her to commit suicide?

            The State decided it should not give that assistance. In my opinion it was influenced by superstitious ideas of the “sanctity” of human life proceeding from a Christian understanding of the universe that has no place in our secular republic. Life is not sacred because there’s no such thing as sanctity. Life merely is.

            The sentience that life endows each of us with is experienced by most of us as desirable and useful, and therefore to be protected. But if it becomes an intolerable burden to us, we can certainly choose to end it. The absolute proof of this can be seen in the fact that suicides can and do happen. If our lives were not our own to end as we see fit, how could we voluntarily end them?

            As Mme Sébire’s decisions had already condemned her to death and all she was asking for was assistance in cutting short her sufferings, the State could have been merciful and provided her with the necessary help. In doing so it would have upheld the secular principles of personal sovereignty and human compassion. Instead it chose to give precedence to a religious idea of the sanctity of life, which shows a confusion of principles that no secular State should tolerate. The evidence of our personal sovereignty is clear enough and in my opinion the State should allow us free exercise of it. Suicide should not be criminalised and neither should assisting someone to commit suicide, provided that the decision has been reached solely by the person making it, and there has been no coercion or undue influence. Free will implies free choices, after all.

  • Inspector General

    We must not forget the Christ himself was the subject of an early end to his ultimate death on the cross. Legs broken and speared in the side. The Roman soldier who did it certainly had form there, yet no condemnation of him from those whose business it was to determine the new religion. Why was this?

    • Except, Jesus had already died before the spear was used on Him. And His legs were not broken.

      “… but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.”

      • Inspector General

        …and the point of being speared? Some further post mortem shaming. Perhaps the gospeller had it wrong and he was still breathing…

        • Breaking of the legs was to ensure death for the convenience of the soldiers, who no doubt wanted to stand down and divide the spoils. Nothing to do with compassion. The spear was an insurance.

          “And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe … “

          • Inspector General

            Ah, supposition from you Jack. Well done!

          • No, just a bit of knowledge about Roman crucifixion practices, Inspector. Jack paid attention at school.

          • sarky

            Then you will know that every single depiction of the crucifixion we have is wrong.

          • In what way is it “wrong”?

          • sarky

            Because it would be impossible to crucify someone in the way depicted. The hands/wrists are not strong enough to support the body. Plus the weight of the body would cause suffocation leading to a quick death, which is not the point.
            There was a good programme on it recently, unfortunately I can’t remember the name.

          • Lol …. Jack suggests you Google around a bit more. For example, there are excellent sites on the Turin Shroud discussing these very issues and demonstrating the scientific accuracy of the bible concerning Roman crucifixion.

          • IanCad

            Jack,
            I may be wrong – but I thought that the purpose of breaking legs was so that the victims would die and could be buried prior to the Sabbath.

        • Dominic Stockford

          The gospeller got nothing wrong.

  • The Explorer

    “Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). What does it mean? I’m not sure; but it does suggest that clinging to life at all costs should not be a priority for a Christian.

    On the ‘Titanic’ a single woman gave up her place in a lifeboat for a mother with a young child. That must be one application of the principle. How might it pan out with this particular situation?

    My own tentative feeling is that (as is likely at some point in the future) I became an intolerable burden to others and could remedy the situation by not taking my medication, then I would not feel I was sinning if I ceased to take it.

    As Paul pointed out, to die, for a Christian, is to be with Christ. He stayed on in the body because he had work still to do. How we define our ‘work’ in this world is, I suppose, a moot point.

    • “My own tentative feeling is that (as is likely at some point in the future) I became an intolerable burden to others and could remedy the situation by not taking my medication, then I would not feel I was sinning if I ceased to take it.”

      You’re skating on very thin ice there, Explorer. Giving your seat to another on a lifeboat is not actively and intentionally seeking death.

      Intentionally hastening your own death by refusing medication would be an act of passive suicide i.e. seeking one’s own death. Refusing what is termed “disproportionate or futile treatment” is different. Omitting “proportionate treatment” with the active intention to hasten death would breach the principle of the sanctity and inviolability of one’s life. It’s not your life – it belongs to God.

      • The Explorer

        On the other hand, in an earlier era, I would be dead already. (One could say, of course, that that is irrelevant because I wasn’t born then, I was born now, with access to modern medicine.)

        The question is, would I be shortening my life, or no longer artificially prolonging it? I concede the grey area, which is why I used the word ‘tentative’.

        • Then thank God you are alive today, Explorer.

          Jack repeats – intentionally hastening your own death by refusing medication would be intentionally seeking one’s own death. Refusing “disproportionate or futile treatment” is different. Omitting “proportionate treatment” with the active intention to hasten death would breach the principle of the sanctity and inviolability of one’s life. It’s not your life – it belongs to God.

          • The Explorer

            There seem to be three issues on which I get into disagreement with other Christians on this blog.
            1. That we don’t know the fate of the unevangelised.
            2. That Nature in its current state is not as God intended it.
            3. That cessation of treatment in terminal illness need not be wrong.

          • Jack wouldn’t disagree with any of those propositions, Explorer. That last one is complex, though.

            Here’s a good article, written by Catholic doctors and theologians, covering, amongst other issues,medical treatment and refusal thereof.

            http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=6692

          • The Explorer

            Thank you. Your references/referrals are invariably worth reading.

      • sarky

        But jack, taking medication In the first place is against nature. By refusing it you are going back to the natural state.
        Years ago people would have died of things that are simply treated now. Is this ‘intervention’ against god? If not, then how can you argue against assisted suicide?

        • As Jack has already said, medical treatment is an affirmation of life and cooperation with God.

          • sarky

            If it is in gods plan for you to have a heart attack, but you take medication to stop it, then surely you are going against gods plan?

          • Who’s to say it’s not God’s plan that the medication was developed in order that you take it and live?

  • Sam

    Okay so basically the arguments in favour of assisted suicide are :

    1). It aims to stop people who are ill, from suffering pain in a quick and easy way. No gun left by the bedside Or a friend family member helping you pull the trigger , just a pill and glass of water, whilst you painlessly die.

    2). People are sovereign masters of their own bodies and can or should be able to decide, therefore, what they want to do with them , including when they die and they have every right to be helped to end their own suffering.

    My issues from those arguments are :

    1).who gets to decide (medical professionals, judges the patient, the patient’s relatives?) to define what suffering /pain actually is and at what threshold the pain has to be ? Also who and with what condition will be deemed worthy of assisted suicide? Is this just physical illness or will those diagnosed with mental illness , e.g. depression , dementia etc be included? Will there be any alternatives offered such as palliative care or medicines . Or will patients be refused other treatments or care, due to costs ?

    2). if you have a friend or relative who is suffering from clinical depression or another mental illness, rather than trying to stop this suicide in any way you can , should we just say (?):

    “okay, it’s your body , so kill yourself I’m not going to stop you, but no need to self harm by knife or starvation, hang yourself or throw yourself off the bridge, the paramedics will have a pill for you. You can go ahead and die in a painless way, your mental suffering will be over , when the ambulance arrives you sign a form, take a pill and your suffering is over “.

    • Hi Sam

      Are you in favour of assisted suicide or not? How come you’ve not referenced Judaism in your argument (Which if we are extremely against suicide, presumably assisted suicide is also a no no ? ).

      • Sam

        Hannah

        At present I’m against assisted suicide, RavJakobovits :

        “The value of human life is infinite and beyond measure, so that any part of life – even if only an hour or a second – is of precisely the same worth as seventy years of it, just as any fraction of infinity, being indivisible, remains infinite.”

        But quoting a rabbinical authority or Torah view, whilst valid for us or possibly of interest to our Christian friends, is in some regards irrelevant to this discussion . Like many ethical or moral issues , the debate is framed not via the prism of Jewish or even religious ethics, but on the basis of the two issues I mention : suffering and self ownership of a person. Hence my questions in response to both of them.

        The first set of questions is to ask how far are we going to go on this road (not all slippery slope arguments are WRONG) . When abortion was legalised it was argued you’d stop the back street abortionists and it be only permitted , if the mother’s life was a risk. That’s a reasonable position for the public to understand. Today we have de facto abortion on demand, which is quite a different matter from the original intent of the law. Likewise with assisted suicide we may start from a position which is seem to the ordinary Joe public -when they are give ultimate examples of human pain and suffering- as merciful or compassionate way of ending life , but end up with de facto euthanasia, regardless of the intent of the law or whatever safeguards are put in place. How do you objectively define suffering and how bad does the suffering have to be ?

        The second set of questions asked about people with mental health issues and how assisted suicide would change our responses to people with mental illnesses. I would like to think that people would say in response that precisely because mental health is a desise of the mind , such a person can be detained of their liberty for their own good , to help and cure them: therefore even today there are limits to the idea one has utter mastery of one’s own fate or body. Except of course it could be argued even someone with mental health has a right to die and end their inner turmoil. So perhaps , assisted suicide will be eventually extended to those today that we would want to help and talk them out of suicide.

  • The Explorer

    Does Lord Falconer’s Bill do away with assisted dying?

    You get life-ending medication from a doctor, but you choose when to self-administer.
    So the doctor does not assist you. Or does s/he? Would you have the wherewithal without the doctor’s initial input?

    Surely the doctor has still assisted you?

    • Well, what do you think?

      • The Explorer

        I thought I gave my answer in my last sentence. I see it as different from ceasing treatment, and more culpable.

        • It’s a sleight of hand and, if passed, the beginning of the end. In Holland it has lead to euthanasia of children, God help us.

          In 2013, 650 babies died under Holland’s assisted suicide law because their parents or doctors deemed their suffering too difficult to bear.

          Although the law was designed to help terminally ill patients have a dignified death, the right to die has also been granted to a growing number of people who are physically healthy but have psychological problems.

          As Mr M commented:

          “The monstrous mind of the atheist, liberal world is exposed very clearly when such things happen. Similarly, we are once again reminded of the slippery slope of liberal legislation, which has never failed to produce results abhorred by many of their very original proposers: abortion was initially thought as a (evil) remedy for extreme cases, like the fifteen years old girl very near to suicide. Pro-pervert legislation was initially smuggled as a way to help dykes and faggots to have an easier life in their administrative matters (will, say; or hospital visits). Euthanasia as a remedy to the oh so atrociously suffering, oh so terminally ill, oh so old man or woman.

          How it ends – how it must end, then when one starts to take leave from reason it is unavoidable to go down the road to madness – is abortion on demand, so-called “gay marriage” and adoption rights, and the slaughter of innocent babies.

          There can be no middle way between the Christian way and utter madness. God’s rules are not only good for our salvation, they are perfectly logical, eminently practical and completely sensible for the human being. It is an illusion to think that a Lawmaker can take leave from Christian principles without progressively drifting into utter and complete, monstrous cruelty.”

          And he’s right on the money with this.

          • The Explorer

            I was watching something by Pat Condell on YouTube about Muslim attitudes to killing homosexuals (especially if it’s a Muslim homosexual). Some are happy with beheading, but others balk at it (the original punishment was flogging and exile: death crept in later) and prefer crushing under rocks. That way, you haven’t killed them; the rocks have killed them.

            But that’s sleight of hand, too. Without your intervention, there wouldn’t have been the rocks. Seems to me the same sort of thing as with Lord Falconer’s Bill.

      • carl jacobs

        Jack

        Good job on this thread. I might quibble over a few things. But not much.

        • Thank you, Carl.
          Frankly, after such a good lead in article from AB Cranmer, Jack is gob-smacked that so many regulars tacitly support suicide and assisted suicide or, at least, are silent on the issue.

          • carl jacobs

            My reaction as well.

          • IanCad

            Mmmm……

          • David

            As a semi-regular, I say,

            “me too”

          • Humanist psychologists and atheism are perfect bedfellows in this pursuit of an earthly kingdom of human ‘happiness’.

          • David

            Indeed.
            Now that atheism and Humanism, and the political persuasions attractive to those so persuaded, namely Socialism and contemporary, new definition Liberalism, have enjoyed such stunning successes against traditional Christian derived values, laws and way of behaving, we see their “dreams” for society enacted at an accelerating rate. The end results of their project will soon be on full display.
            So in a short while, those few traditional Christians still around when their “utopia” is close to completion, will find themselves very much at odds with that, quite literally, new world.
            The challenge we face is how to preserve our precious deposit of faith, carrying it forward, as did the Rule of Benedict, to the safe waters we all hope lie beyond ?
            Do we separate or stay connected ?
            Most will say, “stay connected”, but can we really do that and preserve our faith intact, raising families without compromise, as we journey ?
            That I believe is the biggest single question now facing the faithful few.
            Sorry to digress, but this is a recurring theme which keeps returning when I pray.

          • It is a genuine question.

            The then Cardinal Ratzinger, wrote in “Faith and The Future”:

            “From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge – a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so will she lose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, she will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision.

            As a small society, she will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members. Undoubtedly she will discover new forms of ministry and will ordain to the priesthood approved
            Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Alongside this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly.

            But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize her true center and experience the sacraments again as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship.

            The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek.

            The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed. One may predict that all of this will take time. The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism of the eve of the French Revolution—when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the
            existence of God was by no means certain—to the renewal of the nineteenth century.

            But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

            And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already with Gobel, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be
            the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.”

            We can be in the world – but not of the world.

          • David

            Yes, very good, and thank you Jack, for that most thoughtful passage. He captured much of what will become true, and indeed is becoming true.
            Your quotation reminded me of the first time that I read it, some years ago, and those thoughts and similar ones seem to be very much with me of late.
            Are you familiar with the present Pope’s statement ? Very roughly he states that the Reformation is over, Luther has been vindicated; all parties to that struggle now agree that salvation is through our faith in Christ.
            So as the time for struggle regarding Luther’s point is now behind us, all branches of the Church Universal need to co-operate to face the present threats.

          • Dave, Happy Jack is something of a traditional Catholic (is there any other type? ) so would not agree that Martin Luther has been “vindicated” but he did have legitimate concerns about the Church in his time. There is a significant theological divide between Lutheran and Catholic theology.
            However, as Pope Benedict said in his speech in 2011 to Lutheran Evangelists:
            “It was the error of the Reformation period that for the most part we could only see what divided us and we failed to grasp existentially what we have in common in terms of the great deposit of sacred Scripture and the early Christian creeds. For me, the great ecumenical step forward of recent decades is that we have become aware of all this common ground, that we acknowledge it as we pray and sing together, as we make our joint commitment to the Christian ethos in our dealings with the world, as we bear common witness to the God of Jesus Christ in this world as our inalienable, shared foundation.”

          • David

            Your position is understood.

          • Anton

            What in this scenario, Jack? Men lying on World War 1 battlefields with their guts hanging out used to beg their C.O. to shoot them because they knew that they were doomed to 12 hours of extreme pain prior to inevitable death. If you were that C.O., would you lend such a man your revolver for a minute?

          • Jack would hope he had the moral fortitude not to succumb to severe temptation in such a situation, Anton.

            “If so, why should we not do evil so that good may come of it? That is what we are accused of preaching by some of our detractors; and their condemnation of it is just.”

            The notion that good ends justify evil means – “consequentialism” – has to be the most popular moral heresy in the world.

          • Anton

            I know. I once stood my ground against a pair of nominal Christians who had done more good in the world than I probably ever shall – basic lifesaving bush surgery in Africa for 6 months/year for many years, subsidised by the husband’s job as a consultant surgeon here the other 6 months. They believed in abortion for women with HIV. They said that it was not just about the baby – being pregnant greatly accelerates the HIV infection in the mother. I said that I would not advocate fighting evil with evil. But I regard the lending of the gun as the lesser evil in the case I have put to you.

          • But consequentialists always use the “lesser evil” as a justification for a morally wrong action. Once you start on this path you are compromising with evil. Following Saint Paul, we may not choose any evil. None – period. There is no allowance for directly choosing an evil act.

          • Anton

            I don’t think the world is as simple a place as you think it is.

          • “Make your way in by the narrow gate. It is a broad gate and a wide road that leads on to perdition, and those who go in that way are many indeed; but how small is the gate, how narrow the road that leads on to life, and how few there are that find it!”

          • Anton

            Hear, hear!

          • Consequentialism is generally used to enable one to have a clear conscience when there is a conflict between the desirable consequences which recommend an action to them (relieve the immediate physical suffering of a mortally wounded soldier) and some moral principle which tells them not to do it (the taking of innocent life is the sole prerogative of God).

          • Anton

            The principle of the lesser evil cannot be avoided in real life rather than scholastic discussions. We might simply be disagreeing on which is the lesser evil.

          • Define evil.

          • Anton

            Legalism again… what I failed to convey last night.

          • Legalism? What’s your alternative?
            Evil is contrary to the will of God; moral evil is a free will acting against the law of God, who does not want moral evil as an end or as a means.

          • Anton

            I don’t know about natural law but my alternative to legalism is grace. I do not claim that how it is dispensed and to be dispensed is always clear, but I do assert that it is beyond legalism to capture.

          • Natural Law and Grace are not at odds. It is God’s will written on our hearts dimmed by man’s Fall from Grace. Surely Grace is what causes us to act in harmony with God and His will through union with Christ. In this life, none of us are perfect and yet we are called to be so. This requires cooperation on our part and resisting our sinful nature by discerning and following the commands of Christ.

          • Anton

            Why would you regard it as temptation?

          • Because Jack is not God and that man’s life is not Jack’s to end, nor is it his life to ask me to end it or to take it himself. His life belongs to God.

          • Anton

            God granted it to him.

          • God grants man free will – to chose between good and evil.

          • Anton

            Yes and No. Definitely.

  • Orwell Ian

    Based on the Gill Paraoh case it is being claimed that if we had laws in this country where you could write an advance directive and say for example ‘If I have a stroke that disables me, I would like medical assistance to die’, the fear of permanent disability would be removed and the elderly would be happy to stay around for longer. In effect this is saying that granting the right to die be killed would actually reduce the numbers seeking and end to their lives. Hows that for a subtle and crafty push towards legislation with dangerous and far wider implications.
    What we need is care not killing.

    • dannybhoy

      As a society we have to decide what is important. Do we accept that life is only worthwhile if we have health and prosperity. That usually involves travelling away from our family home to study, to pursue a career, and raise a family.
      We leave our parents behind and they then eventually become part of and dependent on an impersonal care system.
      It all depends on what we decide life should be about..

  • len

    The problem with any law affecting Life matters is that it WILL be abused.Look at the law regarding abortion now used as a means of birth control or used for ‘designer babies’.
    I Imagine one elderly relative being made to feel a burden (especially if they are sitting on a goldmine the relatives are eager to get their hands on)

    On the other hand we would not treat animals the way some people are treated enduring terminal illness and only death would be a welcome release….So what’s the answer?. Only those afflicted with full command of their faculties can decide…in consultation with a medical team.