It’s one of those topics that can stir a national debate in no time: Should a person have the right to end his life when he’s ready to die? In January, Judge Nan Nash ruled that doctors in New Mexico have the constitutional right to prescribe lethal drugs to help people end their lives. And although it took two months, as expected, Attorney General Gary King has formally appealed the ruling.
Organizations like the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops and Voices for Family Values were outraged over the judge’s ruling, pushing people to “Stand up for life,” citing both moral and religious reasons. Voices for Family Values is dedicated to the protection of human life from the time of conception to the end of natural life. It promotes public policy to protect the unborn child and their mothers. In further support of life, it opposes euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, human cloning and embryonic stem cell research.
Voices for Family Values is a Christian organization that claims to promote a biblical worldview in New Mexico. Once again, the far right is making the claim that issues like physician-assisted suicide goes against the teachings of the bible and God’s will.
The Catholic Church believes if a patient chooses to end his own life, no matter how sick or how much pain he’s enduring, this will severely damage his relationship with God because he is interfering with the natural process of death that was God’s will. But how do they know? We have religious leaders and Christian organizations telling us what God wants with no proof to support their statements. This isn’t about what God wants. This is religious zealotry masquerading as morality. This is about controlling society, and sadly it works on the masses.
Would Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, really want his fellow man to suffer? The problem is Christians love to quote the Bible and tell us that through God there is no suffering. They’ll reference verses like Psalm 103:2 — “God is the healer of our diseases;” Psalm 23:4 — “God is our Comfort;” and Romans 8:18 — “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Believe what you want; after all, we live in a country that allows us the freedom to believe in any God we choose, any religion we want or anything else. If you believe in a natural death, then by all means, have your natural death. However, let’s look at the equation through the eyes of critical thinking. Many terminally ill patients don’t want to suffer. They don’t want to go through the excruciating pain and agony — and they shouldn’t have to. Maybe you are against physician-assisted suicide now, but when you’re confined to a wheelchair or a bed, rely on a feeding tube to keep you nourished, can’t speak or move your body and the pain is so overwhelming, you might have a different opinion. If it’s only a matter of days, weeks or months, and there is absolutely no chance for survival and the suffering is so great, the patient should have the option to die peacefully when he’s ready. For animals it’s humane; for humans it’s a capital offense. Where is the logic in that?
Aja Riggs, a cancer patient and plaintiff in the 2012 lawsuit against New Mexico, said, “Most Americans want to die peacefully at home, surrounded by loved ones, not die in agony in a hospital. If my cancer returns and I face intolerable suffering, I want the option to cut it short, and to die peacefully at home.”
The question is: Do we control our lives and decide when to end it? Or do we leave that decision to the government, God or anyone else? With an appeal filed, a higher court will have to decide whether doctor-assisted suicide becomes the law in New Mexico.
We need more thinking people to stand up and start pushing back on issues that involve human suffering. We should all be able to live and die on our own terms.