The pro-Euthanasia lobby is inventing human rights, just as the pro-homosexual lobby is. The latter is inventing the “human right” for same-sex attracted persons to “marry”, and the former is inventing a “human right” to “choose one’s time of death”.
If the language of “human rights” is not to become a devalued currency, we must agree that you can’t just mint brand-new shiny “human rights” according to whim. The Catholic Church teaches that true “human rights” are those that arise from the dignity of what it means to be human. Of course, the question there is “what does it mean to be human?” and that is where the argument starts. It is an argument for a different time. But one thing we can say for now is that part of the definition of “human dignity” has to do with the human being as a social being, and with human community. An out-of-control libertine individualism is not good for human society and thus “my business and no-one else’s” cannot be cited as a basis for a “human right”.
In relation to this, I wish to draw your attention to this article in The Australian today: “Choosing one’s time of death is a basic human right”, by Nigel Gray (former director of the Cancer Council of Victoria). He writes:
I AM distressed by the confusion and disgruntlement surrounding the discussion of euthanasia. Even the admirable Paul Kelly gets it wrong (The Australian, September 29). He refers to euthanasia as "legalised killing", implying that those who support euthanasia want someone to do something to someone else. The word kill occurs seven times. If we take away the labels such as euthanasia, kill, murder, suicide, we can look at the issues.
I disagree very strongly. If you take out these words – which are NOT “loaded” words, or fuzzy words, but words that are clear and have a deliberate and objective meaning – THEN you in fact obscure the issues rather than clarify them.
The people who join the Dying with Dignity movement simply want to die with dignity. This ought to be possible under Victorian law, but it is not surprising that people want to be sure of getting their wishes.
To die with dignity is, I would agree, a “human right” – but in a secondary sense: ie. everyone is entitled to that “dignity” which is due to them because they are a human being in BOTH life and death. The question is: what do you mean by “dignity” in this context? Japanese warriors and Jihadist Terrorists both had/have ideas about what a “dignified” death is. We disagree with both their accounts. We disagree with Nigel Gray’s too.
My wishes are also simple. I want the right to choose the place and time of my own death. I do not want to transfer the responsibility to someone else. The place will be in my own bed, with Louis Armstrong playing in the background. The time: not yet imminent.
The “someone else” who has the choice of the place and time of one’s death is not a human being. Whether you believe in God or not, no human being – including oneself – has a “right” to chose when and where they will die. The very unpredictability of death is one of its greatest mysteries, but we do not have a “right” to solve that mystery by taking our own life or the life of others.
The whole thing could be much simpler and less disturbing if, for example, the law allowed the following two options. All that follows necessarily requires everyone involved to be willing participants. No one could or should be forced to participate, and the service should be free.
Ah yes. If only that difficult and disturbing thing we call “death” could be made “simpler and less disturbing”… Note that “could” and “should” are, of course, two different things.
Option one: The person (I have not said patient) presents to the nearest (willing) pharmacist a form signed and witnessed (as is any will or power of medical attorney) that requests the pharmacist to provide a lethal dose of Nembutal with instructions for use. The person goes home and takes it. At the moment, the family then has to waste the time of a practitioner to certify death and the coroner has to inquire to see that someone was not murdered.
“Waste the time of a practicioner”? “not said patient”? Is he in fact arguing for the right of any and all human beings to commit suicide whenever and for whatever reason they choose? If this it is indeed a “human right” for all human beings to decide the place and time of their death and to carry it out by their own action, does this not mean that it is immoral to try to prevent suicide?
Option two: A charitable organisation, called the Earthly Angel Service, accommodates the person’s wishes. The person provides a form, signed and witnessed as above. The EAS then provides an authorised (registered and licensed) staff member who has some simple skills, and an independent witness. The EAS visitor: Slips a needle into a vein and sets up an intravenous drip. Draws up a lethal dose of morphia and slips the needle into the drip. Hands the syringe to the person. The person, not anyone else, presses the plunger of the syringe. The morphia flows and permanent sleep follows. The EAS visitor then determines that death has occurred and provides a death certificate. With such a law, no one else is required to do something to someone else.
“Earthly Angel Service”? Note that the article is headed with the by-line “EMOTIONAL terms obscure the facts of euthanasia”. If this isn’t “emotional”, I don’t know what is. Anyway, such an “angel” would be nothing other than an “Angel of Death”. And what kind of “charity” would this be? Not the kind that Church understands. Not the kind of “charity” that the good Samaritan showed.
All the labels are pejorative and obscure the real issues: individual choice, no transfer of responsibility to another person (which is, after all, a tough responsibility to transfer), no bureaucracy, and no need for a terminal disease, so no need for a doctor.
As I said: Suicide as a “human right”. Gray is certainly in a “gray” area here. The result would be a moral obligation on everyone to do everything we can to assist the suicidal to achieve their aims. Also note the emphasis on “choice” and “individual”. We have seen this before in the abortion debate, we see it again here. Remember: since a human being is a social and communal being, “individualism” cannot provide a basis for determining true human dignity.
The reason for wanting choice is that this is one’s own business, no one else’s. We should not have to give reasons. It may indeed be a terminal disease and one may have consulted a doctor, or one may have gone bankrupt, or the wrong team may have won the grand final, but these are not relevant to anyone else. A personal decision, which is made as a human right, is all that is required. The necessary legislation should be simple enough.
Sorry mate. It isn’t your own business. “No man is an island”, and all that stuff. This is individualism taken to an extreme. It is the death of human society. Gray and his ilk are inventing a new “human right” and yes, I want him to give REASONS why he thinks suicide is a “human right”.