Euthanasia: It’s Not Enough To Say “No”

Late last week, the province of British Columbia Supreme Court struck down a law prohibiting euthanasia and assisted suicide.  It won’t be long before the other provinces follow suit.  My country is on the same slippery slope as Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Oregon and Washington.

Within minutes of the law being struck down, my Facebook was full of petitions, blog posts, commentaries and calls for protests.  All of these actions are good, but in my opinion, they are not enough.  It’s all well and good to stand up for life and the dignity of the human person, but what are you (personally) and we (collectively) doing to lessen the suffering of the terminally ill, the disabled, the chronically in pain, the lonely and the mentally ill?

If you were to spend a few days with me as I visit my patients or hold clinics, you would meet the people most likely to buy into the “dying with dignity” mentality.

  • the young, mentally ill gentleman who needs constant reassurance and explanations so that he remains calm
  • the elderly, painfully disabled lady diagnosed with a degenerative bone disease who has told me more than once that she wants to die
  • the WWII veteran with PTSD and his war bride who are struggling to cope daily
  • the husband of an ailing wife puts all her needs first and is slowly making himself sick
  • my patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • my patients with chronic diseases
  • my patients in acute pain
  • palliative care patients
  • the lonely widows and widowers

I can see how people lose hope.  I can see how suffering wears a person down so much that they feel they can’t go on.  Death becomes attractive when a person despairs.

Some people argue that it is the responsibility of the healthcare system – doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, etc. – to care for the most vulnerable.  True.  But not true enough.  Even the most caring physician, nurse or support worker is not enough to comfort someone whose physical, mental and emotional suffering is too great to handle.

What more can we do, we who cry out against euthanasia and assisted suicide?  Here, from my perspective as a pro-life nurse and a person who cares, are some suggestions:

  • lobby for, demand, donate to research that improves the quality of palliative care and pain management
  • organize church and/or community groups that offer help to those who need it:  driving, visiting, light chores, support, friendship
  • join volunteer respite care associations that help families dealing with death and dying
  • share meals and a coffee often with your elderly neighbours
  • volunteer in nursing homes and hospices

We are created to be compassionate and caring, a light shining in the darkness, fully human.  We are our brother’s keeper.  We are the Good Samaritan, Simon of Cyrene and Veronica.

We’ve prayed.  We’ve signed petitions, written politicians, “liked” Facebook posts.  Now it’s time to “do the next right thing,” as a friend once said in a homily.  Get involved, even as you continue to pray.  Do what you can to make life worth living for those whose suffering is unimaginable and, yes, frightening to the rest of us.

Don’t wait for someone else to do it.

Deo Gratias

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20 Responses to Euthanasia: It’s Not Enough To Say “No”

  1. I saw what the British Columbia Supreme Court had done. Thank for blogging about this. This is a great post!

  2. 8kids you are the best, but what exactly does that mean,suicide promoters are not welcome here ! It is not a form of saying we don’t want foreigners here ! Please enlighten me the more

    • Osuji, thanks for your question. The picture above was taken in Ireland, I believe, in 2010. People were protesting against a visit by Dr. Philip Nitschke, the head of Exit International, which promotes euthanasia/assisted suicide and gives seminars to teach you how to do-it-yourself.

  3. Biltrix says:

    Assisted suicide will be on the ballot in Massachusetts in July this year. It does not look good. However, I see signs of hope with the progress in the Pro-Life Movement in both Canada and the US. Social media and pro-life activist groups are awakening social consciousness with regard to abortion, and the tides seem to be turning. We need to launch this campaign further to include euthanasia. Our sleeping citizens need to wake up and recognize that these threats to our culture can be and need to be reversed before it is too late to do anything about it. This is no time to give up!

  4. “Sleeping citizens” is right. I think most people haven’t really thought about what euthanasia/assisted-suicide legislation means to our culture since most of us can’t relate to the struggles and suffering of the disabled/dying/elderly within our midst. It’s much easier to speak up for a beautiful, defenseless baby.

  5. Nice post. Sometimes I think we feel drained. Assaults come from so many directions. It seems as if you just get outraged by one thing and the next thing pops up. Perhaps the attacks are by design. Move the focus of the fight to euthanasia and the battle against abortion and same-sex marriage lessens and loses its effectiveness.

    We can’t all dedicate our time to every issue, but we all need to be dedicated to the work of the Kingdom of God. It is good to wake up and call people to action. As a board member of a crisis pregnancy center I hear all the stories of broken people being given real hope, as opposed to the false hope of the abortion alternative. But involvement is taxing, and it is certainly understandable how so many choose to try and let others to fight the fight in the front lines. But, there certainly is a place for those who commit to prayer, monetary support, petitions, etc. as well.

    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, involvement is taxing. Everyone’s situation and personality is different. That’s why I listed suggestions of different things to do. Hopefully, other people can think of more ideas. The important thing is to keep this issue in the forefront. We will all be affected by euthanasia/assisted suicide.

  6. This is one of the few time I have actually seen someone suggest something other than protest. This was a wonderful post and so true.

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  9. Your suggestions are excellent. Also, I think we have to start young discussing the purpose and meaning of life. By the time somebody is disabled and very ill, it’s too late. I’m disabled with fibromyalgia and serious pain issues and my Catholic faith and prayer life keeps me going. Without a solid relationship with God, we will too easily fall into the “I’d rather die” mode.

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  11. funandfiber says:

    I really appreciate your article. I have struggled with this issue for years, as loved ones die. We keep people alive now that God would have taken home in the past, putting ourselves in His position, placing us on this thorny path. I don’t even include people who want to die because of mental health. The more we think and write about this subject, the better we can clarify our positions and understand where the line between palliative care and assisted suicide is.

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  13. Wow! I had no idea that this had happened. Thank you for sharing this post. It has moved me to try and do more, as well as pray more.

  14. catholic123 says:

    Wonderful post! This gave me chills especially with the reminders of all the simple things I can do to help. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Great post and you offer some really great suggestions. My students last year wanted to do a volunteer project at a nursing home, but we never got around to it, but I plan on being more organized and finding time to take my class next year.

    • That’s wonderful! I go into a few nursing homes and am disturbed by what I see as a great loneliness in so many of the residents. Some of them have no visitors at all. What a great way to teach your students compassion and service.

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