That was the question discussed this week in a course I’m taking at Southwestern on the issues of life and death.
The issue of death is becoming just as important as the issue of life has been for the last 40 years. As a conservative evangelical I can tell you when life begins…at conception, but I have a difficult time with telling you when life ends. Let’s consider a few options with regards to death.
If a person is in a persistent vegetative state would you remove the feeding tube?
If you withdraw a breathing tube is that killing the person or do they pass away do to other reasons?
These are the ethical questions that we will all argue and debate until Christ returns.
This month a video of a woman telling the world why she has decided to take her own life has gone viral.
Make no mistake this is a death with dignity promotional video.
Brittany must do this in Oregon as Oregon along with Washington state, Montana, Vermont, and New Mexico are the only states in the United States to have legalized assisted suicide.
I cannot begin to understand what Brittany has and is going through, but I do know that she must hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ before she takes this final step.
I can sympathize with the headaches as I’ve personally known people with a brain tumor, and sure they probably at times wanted to just give up and end their life, but they fought. They fought for their family and for their future no matter what that might be.
Will Brittany be dead once she takes the lethal medication? Will she be dead once she stops breathing? Will she regret her decision seconds before she takes her last breath?
Only Brittany can answer these questions.
Our role as public witnesses to what she and her family are allowing us to see is to pray for her and her family.
Recently Germaine de Koninck who is 105 years old became what is believed to be the oldest person to choose to die by euthanasia. She will take a lethal injection to end her life because, “she was in constant pain and could no longer bear living in a care home and seeing her friends die one by one”. It was also recently reported that over 300 people a year die from suicide at their own hand because their is no assisted suicide law in England.
Oregon modeled its assisted suicide law after the state of Washington. Oregon passed the law in 1997, and since then 752 people have used the law in the state. The two laws have a pretty tough set of requirements you must meet before you can have a doctor assist you in dying.
The patient must be of sound mind when they request a prescription for a lethal dose of medication. Two doctors must confirm a diagnosis of terminal illness with no more than six months to live. Two witnesses, one non-doctor unrelated to the patient, must confirm the patient’s request, and the patient must make a second request after 15 days.
Our role to ourselves and to our own families is to discuss these matters with our family. Let it be known what steps we want taken in the final days of our life. What we consider basic and what we consider extraordinary measures to save our lives.
I think we can agree, no matter when death happens we don’t want a family argument or a court battle to determine our wishes. So today, before the holidays sweep us away, let’s commit to establishing a Will, Living Will, and Power of Attorney. I know I plan to do this before my son turns three.
If you are thinking of taking your own life call 800-273-8255, or find your nearest church and talk to any minister.