Euthanasia and Dying / by kevin murray

I don’t support euthanasia for human beings in any of its guises or any other its myriad forms.  I don’t support assisted suicide and I don’t support future government agencies that will possibly be forms of quasi-euthanasia.  Having said this, I must admit that our current policies to those that are dying need to be addressed since this is a stage that all of us must exit from.


The people that should have the biggest say in regards to their life are the patient himself, his loved ones, medical doctors, and clergy.  The government should have little or no say and little or no power to end or recommend the end of someone's life.  If you cede the power to the government to determine whether your life is of value to it, you have broken the very foundations that this country was founded on to your own demise.  Additionally, there is no place for agencies, be they public or private that advocate assisted suicide, euthanasia, or their ilk.  The purpose of life is to live and to find our way back to God, the giver of all life; further it is not our place to negate our own life or to provide "assistance" to someone to prematurely end their life. 


The main issue with dying is artificial life support that is now provided for in so many cases.  We have the means to keep patients alive for extended periods of time in which the patients are non-responsive, terminally ill, functionally disabled, and the like.  This person remains alive because of artificial life support and their life would thereby end shortly if that life support was removed.  In cases in which there is a living will, the pathway is fairly clear as to what to do or not to do and that is a fair and moral process because the choice has already been made by the patient.  However, not everyone has a living will and therein lays a dilemma.  The dilemma, however, arises from the patient, and not from anyone else.  That is to say, each one of us is responsible for the decisions that we actively make or don't make, consequently, in cases in which there is no living will or health care directive, you have sacrificed some sort of autonomy, and society's obligation to you at that point is to be a good steward.


Prolonging physical life is not always the prudent, fair, or ethical thing to do.  In absence of the patient not being capable of making that choice given their current physical and/or mental condition, health decisions made must be carefully and considerately contemplated and monitored.   Those decisions made will not always be correct, that is why is best to err on the side of extending life support and to avail ourselves of all reasonable options until such time as the most reasonable option is the removal of the artificial life support. 


We owe that obligation both to the living and to the dying.