Matt Walsh raised some excellent points in his October 9 editorial about the impending suicide of a 29 year old woman with terminal cancer. The fact that this woman is being described as “brave” and that she is being publicly admired and praised for her decision to kill herself is deeply troubling.
It is easy to see this woman’s perspective. She can die sooner on her own terms, without pain. Or she can hang on for a few more months and likely die after going through a great deal of pain and suffering. If the battle is indeed not winnable, it is easy to sympathize with her decision, regardless of whether you agree with assisted suicide or not.
However, this is not a decision that should be praised and admired. It is a tragedy, and her death should be mourned regardless of how she dies. As Walsh points out, if she is dying with “dignity,” do people who fight cancer until the end not have dignity? If she is “brave,” are the people who fight to prolong their lives to the bitter end not brave?
We should also be concerned at how this is corrupting the medical profession. Doctors are supposed to save lives and relieve suffering, not kill their patients. And given the amount of space devoted to discussing the exorbitant cost of end-of-life care, it is easy to see this evolving from a decision individuals make to an obligation to avoid being a burden on one’s family or on the health care system. Death panels, anyone?
Life is a precious gift from God, and we are made in God’s image. This is why suicide is wrong and should be discouraged. While there is life, there is hope. Who knows what blessings will come in the last days of a terminally ill person’s life – both for that person and for that person’s family and friends? Perhaps a terminal illness is a chance for someone to repent and be redeemed – or for someone else to be saved upon recognizing their own mortality.
Murder is wrong, and should never be celebrated. That is true whether it is self-murder or the murder of another.