The right to life is one of the fundemental rights that as a society recognises, however what about the right to die? Who would want such a thing in the first place? You may ask.
Well there are people in the wolrd that are currently looking at their future and envisaging months (in some cases years) of a slow decline in the quality of life, with pain and suffering. Some of these people have asked to not go through this and have asked, in their own words, to 'Die with Dignity'.
Some people believe that noone has the right to this and more importantly noone has the right to help them. The most vocal of these are perhaps some relgious groups that believe the bible is the word of god and clearly states that euthanasia is wrong. A quote that is often used on the subject is the following:
Ecclesiastes 8:8a declares:
"No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death."
Several religious people have used quotes such as this when speaking on the issue. The general concensus for Euthanasia in religion can usually be summed it by the following:
Death is a natural occurrence. Sometimes God allows a person to suffer long before death is realized; other times, the person's suffering is cut short. No one likes to suffer, but that does not make it right for us to determine that a person is ready to die. Often God's purposes are made known through a person's suffering.
- Taken from http://gotquestions.org
I see this as religion saying that suffering has a value. That it is something that God is givening us, no matter how unpleasnt.
Down through the centuries and generations it has been seen that in suffering there is concealed a particular power that draws a person interiorly close to Christ, a special grace.
- Pope John Paul II: Salvifici Doloris, 1984
So i'm going to take the stand point that religion doesn't want us to deny people of suffering in the terminal stages of their life by ending it.
There is another arguement, an arguement that i'd much rather pay attention to as opposed to the religious one.
The arguement that this would just be the begining, that soon if we allowed this, then doctors would use it as an excuse to start knocking off people without permission and in a world of both social and private medicine where lets face it money talks, these people may have an arguement.
One worry for me is that perhaps doctors under pressure may take a decision to end someones life prematurley simply because keeping that paitent as comfortable as possible in the remainder of their time is expensive and a waste of resources for their insitution.
How long would it be before a Doctor was able to use any such euthanasia loop hole to escape a manslaughter charge?
Well i've still to decide on this issue myself, well certainly not decided clearly enough to broadcast any view on it and i think it's easy to see either side as it's a circumstancial issue.
So what has religion got to do with all this?
It's with overwhelming ignorance and disregard for the opinion of those dieing that religion crashes into this arguement. Let me give you a hypothetical scenario that was proposed to me.
A man named Bob was dieing, a horrible death of huntingson disease and they had a year left. Within the next few months they would lose all motor ability, including the ability to talk and see. One of the few feelings that would remain and no doubt the most dominant one would be the feeling of pain.
This person, goes to his doctor and asks him to be given a lethal injection once he loses the ability to talk. He even prepares a document that he and his family have signed giving the doctor the right to do this.
During the conversation the doctor in a rather akward manner interupts Bob and tells him that he cannot do it. Bob is befounded, upon asking why he is told that it is against the law and the Doctor would be prosecuted and even sent to jail for doing so.
Bob is greatly infuriated by this, and decides to take it further. He finds out that there are people activley campaigning to enforce the anti-Euthanasia laws, which almost sends him over the edge. After he calms himself, he decides to approach these people via e-mail. He puts forward his case and receives a reply.
In the reply they go on to say that they are sorry for his situation and that their best wishes are with him, before finally approaching the subject. The response given went something like this:
"Unfortunatley, the bible states that all life belongs to god and as such all life is sacred, including yours Bob. It is therefore a sin to end such a life as to do so is hurting God and going against his will."
He takes a momment to let the reply sink in before deciding how to respond. He sends back a response:
"But i don't believe in the bible."
The next morning Bob check's his e-mail to find a reply.
"Well we do, sorry."
Let me say for the record that i don't think thats how all people of religious faith see the issue nor do i expect any of them to recat that way, however that story (and it is just that by the way, it's not based on any events) puts into perspective the ignorance of the religions stance on this.
I see more and more in todays society religion poking it's nose back in to issues that require serious discussion and not guidance from a 2,000 year old transcript that was wrote when (as Sam Harris put it) a Wheelbarrel was emerging technology.
Religion hampers humanity and the longer it is taken serious in public forums on serious issues that our society now faces the slower humanities progress will be.