When Assisted Suicide Becomes Legal

Mr. Brian Johnston

It will be a day just like today. It will seem like many should notice, but most will not. There will be a sort of conspiracy of silence and suddenly those lives that we were compelled to care for and to comfort will be in serious jeopardy. That day will come.

Never mind – it already has. In case you hadn’t noticed, assisted-suicide is happening all around, and not just in the Netherlands either, where assisted-suicide is widely practiced and more than half of those euthanized are killed without their consent. But it is happening here in our own cities and hospitals everyday when nutrition and hydration is denied a patient to bring about his/her certain death.

Mr. Brian Johnston, Western Regional Director for the National Right to Life Committee, and also author of Death As a Salesman: What’s Wrong With Assisted Suicide?, paints a bleak picture of a society where assisted-suicide is accepted. He explained that it is not longer a slippery slope in the decline of the value of life that we face, but it is a precipice and we are balanced precariously on the edge of it. It doesn’t happen gradually. Once society accepts the practice of assisted-suicide – it’s done, and we have tumbled over the edge.

How did we get here?

The reason we are balanced so uneasily on the edge of this precipice is from: neglect, lack of spirituality, and hatred. There is a form of hate that really means, “I could care less.” It is this hate that breeds a culture of non-committal, non-caring children that have given up on the quality of its elderly population. Before WWII people died in their homes with relatives all around, mourning and being together to witness the patient’s exit. Today we have learned to hate getting older. We would rather hide the aging and dying away in hospitals and convalescent homes where we don’t have to see it.

What can we do about it?

We need to care and be involved in the battle. Lives, even our very own, are at stake. We must aggressively address the issues and dispel the confusion. Assisted-suicide includes the withdrawal of food and water (basic care) that will lead to death. It isn’t the cancer or the disease that kills the patient then, but instead the cause of death is starvation. “Pulling the plug,” removing extraordinary care, is not the issue. “We have a tremendous task before us. Don’t think that everyone knows the truth. The attraction to assisted-suicide is great and unless you are willing to care we will lose many, many more…”

[Based on a presentation given by Mr. Brian Johnston on 10/2/98 at the Christian Life Resources National Convention]


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