Tag Archives: euthanasia

An Australian way of death: voluntary assisted dying

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia: Fritz Klein, the camp doctor, standing in a mass grave at Bergen-Belsen [northern Germany] after the camp’s liberation by the British 11th Armoured Division, April 1945)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This article first appeared in On Line Opinion, 19 March 2020.

John is 65 and has been suffering from cancer for many years. The pain is too much. When he asks his doctor to put him to sleep permanently (kill him!), should the doctor agree? Jean has such severe dementia, lies in bed for much of the day and is in a vegetative state in an aged care facility. She doesn’t recognise me when I visit her.

In the twenty-first century, there is considerable public support for euthanasia to be legalised across Australia. There is a minority group of medical practitioners, Doctors for Voluntary Euthanasia Choice, that is supportive of euthanasia in certain circumstances.

The dangers of the majority view

According to The Guardian Australia Edition “a nationwide poll of 1,032 people conducted by Essential Research has found that 73% of Australians support voluntary assisted dying” (VAD).

If a majority of people agree with a position, does that make it right? An Appeal to Popularity is a logical fallacy that is difficult to notice because it sounds like common sense if the majority of people agree with it. The falsehood is that it doesn’t deal with the content of why VAD is right or wrong for a society or individual.

What is voluntary assisted dying?

Let’s get it clear what euthanasia (VAD) is. We are sometimes confused by the current debate because it seems some are talking about disconnecting life support systems. Others think we deny the patients’ rights to say, “This is enough. I want no extraordinary means to be used to keep me alive when all hope of physical life seems to be gone”.

We don’t need euthanasia for this. It is the common law right of all Australians to decide which treatments they want to have for themselves. We have legislation for an enduring power of attorney and an advanced health directive to cover these medical situations.

(image courtesy docotal)

Euthanasia is “the intentional killing of a person, for compassionate motives, whether the killing is by a direct action, such as a lethal injection, or by failing to perform an action necessary to maintain life. For euthanasia to occur there must be an intention to kill”.

Now, euthanasia promoters don’t use the word “kill”, but it is the only accurate word to describe the reality of what happens. Besides, it is the word that our current law uses. Retired anaesthetist and palliative care physician at Concord Hospital, Sydney, Dr Brian Pollard, stated, “Euthanasia is a form of homicide – even if legalised, it would be legalised homicide. Intention is central to the concept”.

Sad and distressing cases are put forth so that it is made to appear there is a vast amount of suffering for which nothing less than death is good enough. Yet, I am told that those who practise palliative care with the terminally ill encounter few requests for euthanasia by patients. Too often, the distressed relatives who often feel impotent, sense a lack of support, and may be encountering a financial burden, are the ones calling for euthanasia.

I do not reject euthanasia because of the results it is likely to cause.

When Luke Gormally, director of London’s Linacre Bio-Ethics Centre, was in Australia he warned that legalising euthanasia could lead to “killing the disabled and dependent for economic reasons”. He also warned that euthanasia would endorse youth suicide because of the “wholly negative message” it would send to youth.

What will stop Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Canada, certain USA states and Australia from getting to this example once the slippery slope has begun? The Atlantic (3 Sept 2014) reported this story:

In July 1939, Richard and Lina Kretschmar, two farm workers from eastern Germany, wrote to Adolf Hitler to ask for permission to kill their son.

Gerhard Kretschmar had been born five months earlier with one arm, one leg, and vision loss. The Kretschmars were loyal Nazis, and “The Monster,” as they referred to Gerhard, was considered both burdensome and incompatible with the pursuit of genetic perfection. Gerhard was killed a few days later at a hospital near his home, likely by lethal injection.

The Netherlands has become a dangerous country

We know that when we support VAD, it can go beyond the person’s choice. Holland is the most recent example for which we have clear evidence. That country has permitted VAD for some time, and has legalised it.

The Uniting Church in Australia’s consultation paper, “Voluntary Assisted Dying Queensland Synod 2019” stated: ‘In Belgium and the Netherlands, the criteria for voluntary assisted dying includes that someone be experiencing “unbearable suffering”‘. This paper detailed a very sad case of a person suffering from severe dementia.

Is that all that happens in the Netherlands with VAD?

The Netherlands’ medical doctor, Dr. Karel Gunning, on his 1992 visit to Australia said: “Holland has indeed become a very dangerous country, as patients may have their lives ended without their request and without knowledge of the authorities. The doctor thus has become a powerful man, able to decide on life or death”.

The New Scientist magazine (20 June 1992) confirmed this alarming situation in an article titled, The Dutch way of death.” It stated that:

… doctors and nurses in the Netherlands can practise euthanasia if they stick to certain guidelines. Yet many patients receive lethal injections without giving their consent.

In some hospitals, doctors routinely approach patients who are terminally ill, offering to inject them with lethal doses of barbiturates and curare. But Dutch euthanasia has its sinister side, too. Involuntary euthanasia of sick and elderly people is commonplace in the Netherlands, and that when patients do opt for euthanasia, it is frequently out of fear of being a nuisance rather than to avoid unnecessary physical suffering.

The details are alarming. At least a third of the 5000 or so Dutch patients who each year receive lethal doses of drugs from their doctors do not give their unequivocal consent. About 400 of these patients never even raise the issue of euthanasia with their doctors. Moreover, of those who willingly opt for euthanasia, only about 5 per cent do so solely because of unbearable pain.

The magazine concluded that “these revelations strike a blow at the two central canons of the worldwide euthanasia lobby: that euthanasia should be used only as a means to end pointless physical suffering, and that the patient alone should make the decision.”

As one Dutch doctor put it: “Everywhere doctors are terminating lives. The only difference in Holland is that here we talk about it.”

Is this the morality for Australia?

Even though it is clear from this Dutch example that it is impossible to control VAD, is this the right kind of morality Australia should follow? By looking to the end results, this is a system of ethics called utilitarianism. It simply means that a “good” result (for example, relieving pain of a cancer patient) justifies the means (killing the person–euthanasia). This is a dangerous view.

Two examples show us how bad this view of right and wrong can become. In Germany during World War 2, Hitler’s goal was to develop a more perfect race. A pretty good goal one could think? But his way to attain it was evil (killing six million Jews and millions of others).

President Richard Nixon’s goal was a noble one, national security. But the criminal activity of Watergate was not justified to reach it.

The popularity of this view of morality

( Photo courtesy Wikipedia: Hartheim Euthanasia Centre in Upper Austria is where over 18,000 people were killed in the Holocaust).

There are droves of Australians who support the VAD view of morality. We are in deep trouble if this nation follows such an ethical system. The end never justifies the means; the means must justify themselves. An act is not automatically good because it has a good goal.

How do we know what is good? We need a fixed standard of good by which to judge right and wrong, rather than a person’s opinion of what is good. This fixed standard for euthanasia needs to be: murder or assisted murder is always wrong. This is the morality of universal standards of the 10 commandments (the Judeo-Christian world view).

I have taken this lengthy look at why I do not support euthanasia, based on the end justifying the means, because it is a view of right and wrong that could lead to chaos in our lucky country. Those who support VAD and some of those who oppose euthanasia both follow this system of morality.

The Australian Medical Association’s position

In its position statement, “the AMA (Australian Medical Association) maintains that doctors should not be involved in interventions that have as their primary intention the ending of a person’s life.

“This does not include the discontinuation of treatments that are of no medical benefit to a dying patient. This is not euthanasia,” says AMA president Dr Michael Gannon.

The AMA has grave concerns about the VAD Bill now legislated by the Victorian Parliament. It opposed it.

Why I do not support VAD

As a Christian minister I reject VAD for these reasons:

1. The Guardian Australia Edition (2019) summarised one point: “As this generation [baby boomers] enters its final years, the precept that life is precious irrespective of one’s medical condition is being called into question as never before“.

Human beings are unique and special. God’s view is that we are not higher animals but made “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27). If human beings are not special, we can do to them what a doctor advocated to me: “We put down dogs, why shouldn’t we offer the elderly in a vegetative state the same?”

Human life is sacred throughout life and in all circumstances, whether one is strong, independent and healthy or weak, dependent and handicapped.

When we reduce human beings to animals, it logically follows that a whole range of horrendous evils could eventuate. God has forbidden that any life be murdered. There is no need for a commandment that says, “You shall not commit euthanasia.” All deliberate, premeditated killing (abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, homicide–war raises some other issues) is covered by the one commandment, “You shall not murder” (Ex 20:13; Matt 5:21).

2. Secondly, we already know the consequences of a permissive approach to euthanasia. We have glaring examples before us of where permissive euthanasia laws will lead us. The Netherlands, Belgium and Canada are examples, but don’t forget what happened in Germany.

In Germany in 1920, there was a publication by a lawyer, Karl Binding, and a psychiatrist, Alfred Hoche, called The Permission to Destroy Life Not Worth Living, that opened the floodgates and led to open discussion and legislation to permit euthanasia in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

Initially, it was seen to have a beneficial social effect in dealing with the so-called “useless” sick.

Why did they do it? For the very same reasons that are being advocated today: compassion, quality of life, and to cut the cost of caring for these so-called “useless people”. They stressed the cost of caring for the handicapped, the disabled (retarded) and the mentally ill. They were called “useless eaters”.

(Photo courtesy Wikipedia: Soviet POWs in the Mauthausen concentration camp, Austria)

This led to experimentation on human beings and genocide. It was a small step from euthanasia to the Nazi killing fields of 6 million Jews, and it is estimated that about 6 million others also were killed.

3. It is a strange paradox that VAD is being strongly promoted at a time when the medical profession has made great advances in the treatment of pain. This is not the time to recommend assistance in the killing of the terminally ill or others.

According to Dr. Bob Allan, president of the ACT branch of the Australian Medical Association, “Modern palliative care ensured that patients should never have to consider euthanasia on the grounds of severe pain. Treatments are available to ensure death with dignity and without pain” happens (The Canberra Times, 3 February 1993, p. 5).

4. VAD degrades the medical profession and has harmful effects on the doctor/patient relationship. It violates the doctor’s pledge to not harm patients, according to The Hippocratic Oath (created by the Greek physician, Hippocrates, ca. 460), which in its common form is taken by many medical doctors upon graduation, dating back to the time of the Greeks, states:

I will follow that system of treatment which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is harmful to them. I will give no deadly drug to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art.

Some medical schools modify this oath.

5. There is a better alternative: promote life and become actively involved in compassionate care for the dying, people who have a disability and other sufferers in our society.

6. I reject euthanasia because I support the 10 commandments and believe it is always wrong to murder or assist with the murder of anybody. The foundation of Australian society has been built on this view.

I also reject euthanasia because it is an attack on the sovereignty of God. We must answer two fundamental questions: Who are human beings? Whose right is it to terminate human life? Jesus Christ said, “I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:18).

At the time of preparing this article, only 2 Australian states had legislated VAD. However, Queensland is considering following the Victorian legislation and is currently engaged in a round of forums and have made a call for submissions.

(Image courtesy Wikipedia: Euthanasia legislation status in Australian states and territories (as of 2020):  Voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide illegal red Voluntary euthanasia and/or physician-assisted suicide legal blue.)

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 19 March 2020.

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Thou shalt not kill / murder

Disobeying the sixth commandment

By Spencer D Gear PhD

How should Christians respond to terminal illness, suffering, mothers who don’t want the baby in the womb, and euthanasia? How should a government respond to a request for euthanasia with this kind of facial disease?

Should this heart-breaking story be enough to push a society over the edge to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide? Are emotional, heartbreaking stories like this one enough to convince politicians it’s time to stop the pain and approve the killing of such a person – with her informed consent?

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(images courtesy El Mundo and The Deep Portal)

Chantal Sébire was a French schoolteacher who developed a rare form of cancer which severely disfigured her eye-sockets and face. She also lost her senses of sight, taste and smell’. She died in 2008 from a drug overdose when the French government would not grant her the right to euthanasia’ (courtesy Ranker).

1. Rejecting euthanasia

Martyn Iles was the new managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), as of 2018. I received an emailer from ACL that included Martyn’s brief, but exceptional article, ‘Dr David Goodall, euthanasia, and suffering‘.

It contains the line, ‘If we rip off the band-aid that says, “thou shalt not kill” in such circumstances, we are asking for a myriad of troubles’.

2. Does it mean, ‘Thou shalt not kill’?

clip_image002[4](image courtesy Philip Williams Posters)

I encourage Martyn and other writers for ACL not to use this erroneous KJV translation, ‘Thou shalt not kill’. The correct translation from the Hebrew (Ex 20:13) and Greek (Matt 19:18) is: ‘You shall not murder’. These various translations correct the meaning of Thou shalt not kill” (LXX ou phoneuseis)   and ‘You shall not murder’ (Hebrew lo tir?a?) for Exodus 20:13.

The better translation of Ex 20:13 is found in these translations:

NKJV: You shall not murder.
ESV: You shall not murder. The footnote for ‘murder’ states, ‘The Hebrew word also covers causing human death through carelessness or negligence’.
NRSV: You shall not murder. The footnote is, ‘or kill’.
NIV: You shall not murder.
NLT: You must not murder.

If it means ‘you shall not kill’, God contradicted himself many times in the OT. A couple examples are:

Joshua 6 describes the destruction of Jericho (the Canaanites) at God’s command. Why would God authorise such murder? Norman Geisler explained:

Israel was commanded by God to completely exterminate the Canaanite inhabitants of the land including men, women, and children. This has been called a primitive and barbaric act of murder perpetrated on innocent lives.

Several factors must be kept in mind in viewing this situation.

(1) There is a difference between murder and justifiable killing. Murder involves intentional and malicious hatred which leads to life-taking. On the other hand, the Bible speaks of permissible life-taking in capital punishment (Gen. 9:), in self defense (Exod. 22:2), and in a justifiable war (Gen. 14).

(2) The Canaanites were by no means innocent. They were a people cursed of God from their very beginning (Gen. 9:25). They were a vile people who practiced the basest forms of immorality. God described their sin vividly in these words, “I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants” (Lev. 18:25).

(3) Further, the innocent people of the land were not slaughtered. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah clearly demonstrates that God would save a whole city for ten righteous people (Gen. 18:22f.). In that incident, when God could not find ten righteous people, He took the four or five righteous ones out of the place so as not to destroy them with the wicked (Gen. 19:15). On another occasion God saved some thirty-two thousand people who were morally pure (Num. 31:35). Another notable example is Rahab, whom God saved because she believed (cf. Heb. 11:31).

(4) God waited patiently for hundreds of years, giving the wicked inhabitants of Canaan time to repent (cf. 2 Peter 3:9) before He finally decided to destroy them (Gen. 15:16). When their iniquity was “full,” divine judgment fell. God’s judgment was akin to surgery for cancer or amputation of a leg as the only way to save the rest of a sick body. Just as cancer or gangrene contaminates the physical body, those elements in a society—if their evil is left to fester—will completely contaminate the rest of society.

(5) Finally, the battle confronting Israel was not simply a religious war; it was a theocratic war. Israel was directly ruled by God and the extermination was God’s direct command (cf. Exod. 23:27-30; Deut. 7:3-6; Josh. 8:24-26). No other nation either before or after Israel has been a theocracy. Thus, those commands were unique. Israel as a theocracy was an instrument of judgment in the hands of God. (Norman L. Geisler, A Popular Survey of the Old Testament, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1977, pp. 99-100, in ‘How could a loving God tell the Israelites to kill their enemies, even children?’)

God authorised the murder / killing of many people according to the OT.

The mistranslation of the word as ‘kill’ includes these translations: Wycliffe Bible (1395), Tyndale (1536), the Bishop’s Bible (1568),  the Geneva Bible (1599), Douay-Rheims (1610), KJV (1611), ASV, RSV,  NAB, and NJB.
The translations that correctly translate the word as ‘murder’ include: NRSV, NKJV, NLT, NIV, NIRV, NASB, NABRE, LEB, ISV, HCSB, GNB, ESV, Complete Jewish Bible, YLT, and REB.

Why is ‘kill’ a mistranslation? The Hebrew uses the word, rasah, which is a specific word for murder in the 6th commandment. This does not prohibit capital punishment, but is in harmony with Gen 9:6.  Rasah is not a general word for ‘kill’ as we have in English.

The next chapter of Exodus gives an example that demonstrates Ex 20:13 does not refer to general killing: ‘Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death’ (Ex 21:12 NIV).

We need to remember that God is not against killing: ‘… without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness’ (Heb 9:22 NIV).

As Professor Berel Lang of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut (USA) has noted:

“The original Hebrew, lo tirtsah., is very clear, since the verb ratsah. means ‘murder,’ not ‘kill.’ If the commandment proscribed killing as such, it would position Judaism against capital punishment and make it pacifist even in wartime. These may be defensible or admirable views, but they’re certainly not biblical” (cited in Andrew Holt PhD).

3. Conclusion

There would be a substantial contradiction created by God if his command was, ‘You shall not kill’, as God Himself ordered the killing of many people, Israelites and Gentiles in the OT.

The exegesis of Ex 20:13 and Matt 19:18 demonstrates that the correct translation is, ‘You shall not murder’ and not ‘you shall not kill’.

Both medical science and Scripture confirm that the life of a human being begins at conception/implantation. See my articles:

clip_image004 Abortion and Life: A Christian Perspective

clip_image004Exodus 21:22-23 and abortion

clip_image004[2]The Church Fathers on Abortion

clip_image004[3]When an abortion goes horribly wrong

Therefore, I conclude that abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide involve the murder of a human being and should be criminal offences.

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 May 2019.

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Kill yourself if life is meaningless: Dr David Goodall’s dangerous precedent

Image result for photo Dr David Goodall euthanasia public domain

(Dr David Goodall, courtesy www.hit.com.au)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This is a reply to Peter FitzSimons, ‘David Goodall leads the way with choice we should all get to have’ (Brisbane Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 May 2018).[1]

What a way to start an article! Where are the pro-lifers and fierce opponents of euthanasia?

Peter, we are in the cities, towns and streets across the nation. The mass media generally don’t seek us out to give the reasons why we oppose assisted suicide and euthanasia. Our views don’t get much air-play. They’re not accepted in an Australian culture where people do what is right in their own eyes.

FitzSimons promoted his pro-euthanasia view triumphantly, asking if Dr David Goodall got it right or wrong and whether we are on a slippery slope in our culture.‘David Goodall ended his life at 104 with a final powerful statement on euthanasia’.[2]

If I accept this reasoning, I should have quit counselling suicidal youth and others through 30 years of counselling. Many considered life was pointless and they could be aged 14, 44 or 84.

I should have forgotten about my suicide awareness training programmes. Disregard referring suicidal people to Lifeline (ph 13 11 14) and Beyond Blue (ph 1300 22 4636) for counselling.

Why bother with trying to show there are better alternatives and providing compassionate support in making those decisions? Getting assistance in killing oneself is better! Right?

If they wanted to kill themselves, my advice should have been, ‘Go ahead and do it ASAP. That’s your choice. Good luck!’

Dr Goodall and those who promote assisted suicide set dangerous precedents. They place life and death decisions on the level of everyday choices.

Think of the ramifications!

FitzSimons asked: Where is the problem in any of the Swiss procedures and the way Goodall died?

Many! I will address only four of them:

1.   World views make a world of difference

Worldviews have consequences.

FitzSimons promotes moral relativism. In his words, ‘It’s not your choice (opponents of the right-to-die). It’s our choice (euthanasia supporters)’.

What is a world view?

A world view is a way of viewing or interpreting all of reality…. A world view is really a world and life view. That is, it includes within it value indicators or principles by which one makes value judgments…. One set of world view “glasses” can be exchanged for a different world view. In science this kind of major change is called a “paradigm shift.” In religion it is called a “conversion” (Geisler & Watkins 1984:11-12).

Image result for clipart moral relativismFitzsimons’ reasons to support euthanasia provide an example of the world view of moral relativism in action. Ethical decisions and choices of right and wrong are determined by individuals or group choices in this world view.

2.   The logical consequences of moral relativism

What are the logical consequences of such a view?

Dr Goodall and Exit International consider that euthanasia ‘supports an individual of sound mind’s right to choose and implement a peaceful death at a time of their choosing’.[3]

The late Labor MLC of the NSW upper house, Paul O’Grady, maintained ‘voluntary euthanasia is a question of basic human rights. It is about the right of individuals to choose for themselves the quality of life they want and when they no longer enjoy that quality of life’.[4] Should such a view be applied to people of any age, including teenagers who claim life has no meaning?

The University of Southern Queensland (Toowoomba) published, ‘Business Ethics: boardroom pressures in an age of moral relativism’,[5] affirming this world view in Australia.

Outside of the life/death sphere, history and contemporary experiences tell us that moral relativism has had serious or deadly repercussions, such as paedophilia, terrorism, the Nazi holocaust, Port Arthur massacre, alleged bribery and fraud of the financial sector, mayors unfit for office, cricket ball-tampering, etc.

3.   There is a better way

Some will call this better way a choice because it is not forced on anybody. Australia was built on the moral ethics and government has its foundations in the absolutes of the Judeo-Christian world view.

Why do we need absolute standards of right or wrong in the euthanasia debate? Imagine living in an Australia where murdering anyone either voluntarily or involuntarily was considered right for the country.

We need standards that are beyond fickle human decisions. This does not require us to toe the line of the Judeo-Christian world view. It invites us to participate in upholding the absolute standards of all human beings who are made in the image of God.

So to kill such a person is to take over the sovereign God’s authority in life and death decisions. It is an attack on God’s sovereignty, in the name of human freedom.

John Piper summarised God’s view of life and death and whose right it is to take human life. ‘It seemed to him that in the euthanasia discussion, ‘Human life, which is distinct from all other earthly life in being created in the image of God and designed to exist forever, is the gift of God. And he owns it and may do with it as he please, take it any time he please without wronging anyone, and this is his unique prerogative’.

These verses of Scripture (from the ESV) support that view:

  • 1 Tim 6:13, ‘[He] gives life to all things’.
  • Deut 32:39, ‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god besides me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand’.
  • 1 Sam 2:6, ‘The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up’.
  • James 4:15, ‘Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’.

He gained the understanding from these passages of Scripture ‘that giving and taking life is ultimately God’s right. Human life in its fullest sense is a miracle that only he can create and only he has the right to take, unless he has given the state the right to use the sword in various settings to take life. But as far as medical things are concerned, I think it is clear that God’s rights are at stake here and we dare not intrude on what he alone has the right to do’ (Piper 2016).

Why invoke the commands of the Deity, the Lord God? Put simply, it’s because He tells the truth about life and death decisions. The New Testament use of ‘truth’ not only means the difference between true and false facts, but also that which conforms to reality, as opposed to mere reality.

I recommend this interaction on the need for God and moral absolutes: Ravi Zacharias – Absolute Moral Law & the Existence of God (YouTube).

Read the Scriptures and see the diagnosis of truth (reality) for Australia. They fit like a hand in a glove. You will find the cause of the problems of sin, evil and disease (Genesis 3), the impact on creation and on human beings all around us. From where do crime and violence come? The solution to the moral madness is found through God’s absolute moral standards (10 commandments, Exodus 20; the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7).

TRelated imageThe solution to the human sin dilemma for individuals is found through Jesus Christ’s salvation (John 3:16; Acts 4:12) and the ultimate end of the wretched condition on earth will come at Jesus Christ’s second coming (Acts 1:9-11; Revelation 1:7).

What about the diseases inflicted on human beings, the deformity in vegetation, and animals who suffer?

Chantal Sébire is an example of a beautiful looking French woman who became a picture of gross facial deformity when a cancer from her left eye spread to engulf her face. This could be used as an emotional example to support assisted suicide. However by doing that, I would commit an ‘Argument by Emotive Language’ (see below) and it is false reasoning. Why? It does not provide evidence of the benefits and disadvantages of assisted suicide in any society. I do not provide this example as a reason to promote euthanasia, but it is the type of example used to persuade people and governments to legalise assisted suicide. I oppose such irrational thinking.

Related image(photo courtesy slideplayer.com)

‘Chantal Sébire was a French schoolteacher who developed a rare form of cancer which severely disfigured her eye-sockets and face. She also lost her senses of sight, taste and smell’. She died in 2008 from a drug overdose when the French government would not grant her the right to euthanasia’ (courtesy Ranker).

In the euthanasia debate, the Christian world view lays out the reality of life and death decisions, as opposed to mere appearances. It declares the truth of reality.

That’s not how euthanasia promoter, Philip Nitschke, sees it. He remonstrated with this insulting attack on religious freedom, ‘Just bugger off christian lobby’.[6]

Our nation was built on the Judeo-Christian foundation of the 10 commandments and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. But euthanasia takes life and death decisions and places them in autonomous hands.

Former medical practitioner and now Presbyterian minister, Neil Chambers’ Christian response to euthanasia got to the more foundational issue: ‘Who rules: God or [people]? Who has the right to determine who lives and who dies?’

His assessment rocks the foundations of human freedom: ‘The euthanasia proposals being discussed in Australia and other parts of the world today seek to give to one group of humans—doctors—the right to end human life. They do this without reference to God, or to the circumstances under which God has said human life may be taken’.

They justify the morality of euthanasia by giving human beings ultimate authority and freedom, ‘accountable only to themselves and thus free to do as they wish with their own lives’ (Neil Chambers).[7]

In a Quora forum, Ken Creten gave a typical objection to moral absolutes: ‘I agree with others here that there are no absolute moral values’.[8] What did he do? He created his own absolute in trying to deny absolutes. This new absolute is, ‘There are no absolute moral values’. That is a self-defeating argument.

Where would Australia be if we stuck to God’s sovereign and absolute standards of right and wrong in life and death decisions?

4.   Appeal to the use of emotive language is a fallacy

FitzSimons’ choice to promote euthanasia by an appeal to a 104-year-old scientist who considered life had no meaning, commits an ‘Argument by Emotive Language’.[9]

It is faulty reasoning when he used an emotive example of an aged man euthanised in Switzerland and emotional language such as, ‘So where are you now, you fierce opponents of euthanasia and the right-to-die? How many of you, honestly, can look at the triumphant -you heard me – passing of the 104-year-old … and say that he got it wrong, that society is on a slippery slope, et cetera?’ .

This argument provided no logical reasons to support or reject euthanasia. He replaced reason with emotion to try to win the argument. ‘It is a type of manipulation used in place of valid logic’ (Dr Bo Bennett).[10]

We know from countries with legal euthanasia, no matter the safeguards, they have moved from voluntary to involuntary euthanasia and many cases are not reported in the data.[11]

FitzSimons asked what my choice would be regarding death and my farewell hymn. This article should make that obvious. I have asked my children to sing these songs at my funeral service: ‘How Great Thou Art and ‘I’d Rather Have Jesus’ (Jim Reeves), and ‘What a Day That Will Be’ (Jim Hill, the song’s composer).

Legalising euthanasia in Australia would have ramifications way beyond the apparent ‘goodness’ of such decisions.

See also my articles:

5.   Works consulted

Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).

Geisler, N L & Watkins, W 1984. Perspectives: Understanding and Evaluating Today’s World Views. San Bernardino, California: Here’s Life, Publishers, Inc.

Piper, J 2016. ‘Ask Pastor John: May Christian Doctors Help Patients Die If the Law Permits? Desiring God’, 10 March. Available at: https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/may-christian-doctors-help-patients-die-if-the-law-permits (Accessed 28 May 2018).

6.   Notes


[1] Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/david-goodall-leads-the-way-with-choice-we-should-all-get-to-have-20180511-p4zeu4.html (Accessed 25 May 2018).

[2] ABC News, Brisbane Qld, 11 May 2018. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-10/david-goodall-ends-life-in-a-powerful-statement-on-euthanasia/9742528 (Accessed 25 May 2018).

[3] Exit International. ‘Our philosophy’, available at: https://exitinternational.net/about-exit/our-philosophy/ (Accessed 25 May 2018).

[4] The Sydney Morning Herald 2015. Paul O’Grady, campaigning politician, dies at 54, 19 January. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/national/paul-ogrady-campaigning-politician-dies–at-54-20150119-12t9p1.html (Accessed 25 May 2018).

[5] Presented in 2004. Available at: https://eprints.usq.edu.au/1401/1/Eddington_Searle_Temple-Smith_AWBMMD.pdf (Accessed 25 May 2018).

[6] Available at: https://twitter.com/philipnitschke?lang=en (Accessed 25 May 2018).

[7] Neil Chambers 1995. The Image Disaster: Euthanasia and God’s view of human life, The Briefing, 18 July. Available at: http://matthiasmedia.com/briefing/1995/07/the-image-disaster-euthanasia-and-gods-view-of-human-life/#f1 (Accessed 25 May 2018).

[8] Quora. What is an absolute moral standard, and how is it different from a non-absolute one? Available at: https://www.quora.com/What-is-an-absolute-moral-standard-and-how-is-it-different-from-a-non-absolute-one (Accessed 25 May 2018).

[9] Bo Bennett 2018. Argument by Emotive Language. Logically Fallacious. Available at: https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/45/Argument-by-Emotive-Language (Accessed 25 May 2018).

[10] Bo Bennett 2018. Appeal to Emotion. Logically Fallacious. Available at: https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/29/Appeal-to-Emotion (Accessed 25 May 2018).

[11] Pereira, J 2011. Legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide: the illusion of safeguards and controls. Current Oncology, April 18(2). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3070710/ (Accessed 25 May 2018).

 

Copyright © 2018 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 31 May 2018.

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