Suicides Could Surge If End-of-Life Option Passes in California

"Voting 23 to 14 last week, California’s Senate approved the End of Life Option bill (SB128), which now goes to the state Assembly for debate. The vote, drawing inspiration from the physician-assisted suicide of Brittany Maynard, was largely along party lines with the Democratic majority having enough votes to move the legislation forward."

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Bert Perry's picture

One would figure that after the experience in Belgium and the Netherlands, with numerous instances of involuntary suicide (that is, murder) for the convenience of doctors or heirs/family, would temper our enthusiasm for legalizing assisted suicide, but apparently not.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Sean Fericks's picture

First Question:  What does the Bible have to say about suicide?

Second Question:  In light of the first question, is there a moral difference between ending temporary life challenges (depression, lost love, lost job, etc.) with a permanent non-solution (suicide), and reducing end-of-life suffering by shortening the dying process by a few weeks or months?  For instance, a father who has lost a job still has a moral duty to persevere and provide care for his children.  Suicide cheats them (and him) of a better life.  But a terminally ill father in the hospital is the focus of pain and suffering for weeks or months.  He has no probability (functional certainty / not absolute certainty) to heal and lead a happy nurturing life.  He only has the prospect of intensifying suffering until he finally is relieved by death.

Third Question:  Even if there is a moral duty on the individual and doctor to avoid suicide, is this a proper jurisdiction for government regulation?

Final Question:  If we are interested in avoiding coerced suicides, which solution is better (considering the direction of our political climate)?  A.  Making all suicide illegal. (This option is based on the idea that government has the right to override the wishes of the patient because it knows best.)  B.  Moving the decision as close as possible to the patient. (This option is based on the idea that the patient has a right to his own life.)


Bert Perry's picture

As far as I remember, the only suicide I can think of in Scripture was that of Saul.  Hence I have to infer that for the Jewish authors, it's not mentioned because it was unthinkable to them.  This is also why you don't read about prohibitions of abortion--you might as well argue that a man might desire to become a mouse.  

But that said, we ought to infer that if we are made in the image of God, we ought not to destroy that image--which is why the German word for it is Selbstmord, or "self-murder", literally translated--and the English word is the same, etamologically.  So the lack of suicides in the Bible, as well as the principle of Imago Dei, seems to indicate that it is to be regarded as sin--not the unforgiveable sin, but sin nonetheless.

Now when we drag assistance into this, we drag yet another issue into this; what is motivating the assistant?  Again, there seems to be a financial motivation going on in making "voluntary" euthanasia often involuntary in Belgium and the Netherlands.  I can see a cancer patient foregoing treatment that would only extend life a few weeks.  I am less enthusiastic about living next door to people who have either directly or through a hired assistant pulled the trigger on their own loved one, or about seeing a doctor who has done this to a patient.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.