Physician-assisted suicide activists are already at work in Albany trying to make 2020 the year that New York lets doctors prescribe lethal drugs for terminally-ill patients. To date, nine other states have legalized doctor-aided death, while New York and 40 others have refrained from doing so.
A recent report in the New York Daily News shows that activists are—as usual—pushing the notion that physician-assisted suicide is a compassionate act that ends a person’s suffering. The report quotes a woman who asserted that she “helplessly” watched her same-sex partner “die in prolonged distress because there was nothing I could do” to ease her pain. If advocates can persuade voters and lawmakers that physician-assisted suicide is a caring, merciful act, they will likely succeed in their effort to make the practice legal. But is this argument really true?
The notion that physician-assisted suicide is a compassionate act that ends suffering is based upon false assumptions. The first false assumption is that persons with terminal illnesses have no way to manage their pain except by committing suicide. In fact, 21st century medicine offers a variety of pain management alternatives. In most cases, those alternatives enable a terminally-ill person’s pain to be managed effectively. The second false assumption is that taking lethal drugs will lead to a quick, painless death. However, research shows that some patients do not die for hours or days after they take lethal drugs; according to one source, the use of lethal drugs can result in “awakening from unconsciousness, nausea, vomiting, and gasping.” The third false assumption is that death ends a person’s suffering. This assumption cannot be empirically proven; furthermore, it is flatly contradicted by the Bible, which teaches that life after death involves eternal bliss in the presence of God for followers of Jesus or eternal agony in God’s absence for those who have refused to follow Him.
The first sentence of the recent Daily News article on physician-assisted suicide reads as follows: “A renewed effort is underway to convince New York lawmakers that death is nothing to be afraid of.” The reality is this: The only way to avoid the fear of death is to embrace the One who conquered it.