Euthanasia is once again in the news. The B.C. Government has decided that Gloria Taylor will maintain her right -to-die while the Federal Government appeal regarding the decision of the B.C. Court to legalize asisted-suicide is reviewed.
There is a cavalier attitude toward life and death in our society. I still cannot get over the caller to the CBC who said “Yea choice” regarding taking one’s life. For those of us who believe that life is sacred, that statement is beneath contempt. The sanctity of life gives life meaning and purpose. It means that we believe that we are on earth for a reason, to make it better, and not just here taking up space and limited resources. We are not disposable when broken. And that attitude of dispensability begins in the womb.
I am pro-choice. By I am not pro-unfettered choice. I have talked about selective abortion regarding twins-a mother only wanted one. But I have another moral dilemma to share with you.
A couple want to have children. The mother has had a hysterectomy but the father is able to provide semen. So they find a woman who will donate an ovum. And they find a woman to carry the fertilized egg. Before implantation, doctors check for problems. Around the fourth month, doctors see that something is wrong. The woman who will be raising the child, along with her husband, the semen donor, decide thay do not want an imperfect baby and tell the surrogate womb woman to abort. She says no.
Now what? Is it the right of the surrogate to control her body and say no? Is it the right of the “parents” to demand she abort because of a contract? If the surrogate keeps the child, is the father responsible for child support as he would be if he had impregnated a partner?
Is the fetus a product or a person to be? What law would be used to make these decisions? To what case-law would one refer?
How do we begin the discussion? And if we talk about quality of life-whose life? The “parents” who want a perfect baby or the fetus who is imperfect? Do we assume that an “imperfect” child has no value? What does that say about people who lose an arm or a leg, whose faces are deformed by an accident? Do they lose their value in the eyes of others? Do we kindly suggest that they end their lives?
Intentional taking of life leads us down a path to destruction. We are moving backward. In the Old West hangings were an outing for the family. Perhaps parents used them as a means to teach their children not to break the law. I don’t know. Over the centuries thoguhout different cultures, capital killing has been a public event. Stoning people to death in Muslim countries is still a public spectacle.In Canada capital punishment has been abolished and in the United States, capital punishment is not a public event. I find it barbaric, though, that there are those invited to attend. But the point is we have evolved regarding capital punishment.
We need to do the same with assisted suicide and euthanasia. We need to look at ways to make life comfortable to the end. We need to make the desire to end one’s life unnecessary whether it is because of depression or physical pain.
And abortion. We need to make abortion unnecessary by encouraging adoption for an unexpected pregnancy; by teaching responsibility to all who engage in sex, in or out of a relationship; and remind ourselves that we are not talking about a thing, we are talking about life.
I can’t say this often enough.How we care for the most vulnerable in our society speaks to our society. Compassion is not innate. It is taught. There is for me an “ooh” factor in thinking that taking life can be compassionate. Self-regarding ethics that make it posible for one to abort or end one’s life is a devolving ethic. It takes us back before ethical monotheism to a time when life was not considered sacred, important, valuable. We fought against child sacrifice. We ended sending the elderly on ice-flows. Why are we going back in time?
“One may not go beyond a certain limit; to live is good, to want to live is human, but not at the expense of another’s death.” Elie Wiesel: Messengers of God
Read more: Palliative Care