This week, the BMA voted to shift its position on ‘assisted dying’ – a euphemism for assisted suicide and euthanasia. The professional body and trade union will no longer officially oppose these practices but “will continue to represent the views, interests and concerns expressed by [its] members”.
The position was changed by a small margin – 149 to 145, with 8 abstentions. But campaigners for assisted suicide will use the vote to suggest that doctors are coming round to the practice. They’d already told us that assisted suicide is inevitable and compassionate.
Don’t believe them.
The need to be vocal
Of course, the BMA vote is a blow, but it is not the end. It could represent another storied institution slowly falling for a culture of death, rather than protecting life. But we could, instead, make it the point that woke up Christians – and everyone else with a genuine concern for the vulnerable – to the reality that assisted suicide and euthanasia will soon be in the UK unless we act.
Not Dead Yet UK, a group of disabled people campaigning against assisted suicide, alongside expressed disappointment with the vote. Founder Baroness Campbell said “Disabled people want to trust our doctors to do everything in their power to help us live a good, pain free, dignified life until we die, without the burden of wondering if they think it would be both in their best interests and our best interests if we accepted the option of assisted dying.”
But as well as explaining some of the problems with assisted suicide, she called for people to be more vocal:
“I call upon every disabled person, medical practitioner and others who are worried about the potential for the legislation to change to allow physician assisted suicide to be practiced in the UK, to speak out.
“The NDY UK network is growing every week, we all need to shout louder that our lives have value from beginning to end.”
…”Join us in our efforts to support disabled people to survive and thrive, because our lives are in your hands”.
She’s right. We need to be louder.
I’ve rallied outside parliament with members of Not Dead Yet several times, each time fresh attempts to introduce assisted suicide come around. Given the enthusiasm from the pro-death lobby, their single-minded determination and the relative quiet from ‘our side’, I’ve often been amazed that MPs have ended up opposing such legislation.
We cannot be complacent. A new bill will probably have its second reading in the House of Lords on 22 October. Baroness Meacher’s Private Member’s Bill has a long way to go before becoming law but is a credible threat. The pro-death lobby is organised and is successful at influencing everyday people through media and entertainment; it will take significant effort to stop society and MPs in particular from falling for death’s false promises.
Christians, wake up!
It’s worth looking through our significant resources on assisted suicide and euthanasia to understand the damage it would do to society. But here are two simple reasons for opposing ‘assisted dying’.
Who gains from assisted suicide?
Christians can have a unique perspective on assisted suicide, knowing that life after death is possible – even guaranteed for those who are in Christ.
A non-Christian considering assisted suicide would miss out on that eternal life, with their physical death sealing his or her eternal fate – not a happy one.
A professing Christian considering assisted suicide is simply being tempted to break the sixth commandment: “you shall not murder”. The unlawful taking of human life, even if it is your own, is clearly forbidden by God, throughout the Bible. It is completely out of step with what God has called us to be and ought to raise concerns about whether the Christian really is in Christ.
This very simple analysis ought to be enough to show Christians that assisted suicide benefits no one. However compelling the story, however heartfelt the plea, assisted suicide (just like any other kind of suicide) helps nobody.
Concern for the vulnerable
This is not the only way that our love for neighbour speaks to the assisted suicide debate. The application of the gospel leads us to love the most vulnerable.
Pure, undefiled religion, says James, is “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” The Law is full to the brim of commandments that protect the weakest in society who are most open to abuse. The Prophets consistently stand up to the nations of Israel and Judah as they exploit the most vulnerable.
There ought to be no doubt that assisted dying laws – in the form of physician assisted suicide or euthanasia – open the door for the abuse of elderly and disabled people.
Not for a second do I believe that the pro-death lobby want this. But as night follows day, these laws get loosened and expanded to apply to more and more cases. Our booklet covers just some of the horrifying ways these kinds of laws have slipped and grown over the years, leading to more coercion, more abuse and an increasing culture of death.
The cold, brutal logic of assisted suicide
Assisted suicide hurts the patient, the doctor and the rest of the society. It bolsters the idea that some lives simply aren’t worth living and devalues humans who are made in God’s own image.
The cold, brutal logic of assisted suicide lures people to believe that we should grasp and embrace death as the answer to suffering. Christians have a better Hope – Jesus, who ended the reign of suffering and death by going through both and leaving us a way to walk behind him into everlasting life.
So don’t fall for the anti-Christian gospel of assisted suicide. In this season, love your neighbours by boldly sharing with others the better story of the true gospel.