Assisted Suicide and Real Death with Dignity

If you are wondering what the next social debate in the United States will be, NPR host Diane Rehm spelled it out recently in a public campaign: assisted suicide.

Those like Rehm who believe terminally ill patients should be to able to end their lives with help from physicians typically avoid the words suicide and mercy killing. The bald truth of those words would not win support for the movement. Still, Rehm declared that Jack Kevorkian, who went to jail for killing terminally ill patients, “was before his time” and that “the country wasn’t ready.”

But it’s apparently ready now. The agenda is set. Death will not be defeated.

Assisted suicide—defined as a physician providing a patient the means to take his or her own life, usually through medicine—is now legal in five states, with several more currently considering end-of-life legislation. California resident Brittany Maynard’s 2014 crusade to take lethal drugs rather than face terminal brain cancer sparked 20 newspapers in 11 states to endorse “death with dignity.” Inspired by Maynard, one woman diagnosed with cancer is suing California for the “right to die.” She is not alone: Some studies identify a “suicide contagion” after media coverage of events such as Maynard’s death. One pro-life nonprofit found that, during the media attention before Maynard’s November 2014 death, the number of lethal prescriptions written in Oregon was 39 percent higher than the state’s monthly average.

To paraphrase Dickens, terminal illness is that “vague, uncertain horror” that threatens us all. Most of us have friends or loved ones who have faced cancer head-on. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
From Issue:
Read These Next
Also in this IssueMy Top 5 Books for Becoming a Better Neighbor
My Top 5 Books for Becoming a Better Neighbor Subscriber Access Only
D. L. Mayfield recommends the best books for learning to love and serve those around you.
RecommendedPersecution in the Early Church: Did You Know?
Persecution in the Early Church: Did You Know?
Beginning as a despised, illicit religious sect, Christianity endured 300 years of hostility to emerge as the dominant force in the Roman Empire.
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickFinding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
Finding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Christianity Today
Assisted Suicide and Real Death with Dignity
hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2015

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.