The Supreme Court is not a super-legislature!

The Washington Post warns that putting Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court would:

fortify existing high court doctrine on physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia, specifically a 23-year-old precedent denying that terminally ill patients have a constitutional right to either one.

This is an important illustration on how some people misunderstand the purpose of the Supreme Court, and the courts in general. SCOTUS does not exist to create new rights by reinterpreting (rewriting) the Constitution. The court exists to interpret the text of the law as written. The reason the Supreme Court ruled that there is no constitutional “right to die” is that the text of the Constitution does not contain a right to die.

But a majority of the American people support a right to die! Sure. But they can easily vote for candidates who support assisted suicide to serve in their state legislatures, and those legislators can pass laws to create and protect the legal “right” to assisted suicide. That is how our system is supposed to work.

Some would say that opposing physician-assisted suicide is an anti-liberty position. Look, if someone wants to kill himself, that is not all that difficult. But there is a difference between committing suicide and corrupting the medical profession by turning doctors into killers. Doctors are supposed to preserve life and relieve suffering. Having them actively kill people creates a scary precedent.

When people talk about the “right to die,” it is almost always in the context of terminally ill people who will die shortly anyway. But if we want to spare someone the last few weeks of suffering, then why not someone who is chronically ill and suffers from severe pain that will not kill him? Does he not have the right to escape suffering? Especially as opioids are more restricted due to abuse, people with chronic pain may not be able to get relief and may see death as their only escape from suffering.

What about someone who is severely depressed? “Oh, Scott, now you are just fearmongering.” Am I? Psychological pain can be just as severe as physical pain, and there are plenty of people who suffer as much or more than even the terminally ill. Why should they be denied relief from suffering?

Finally, there is a distinction between refusing heroic measures and active, intentional killing. Especially for the terminally ill, measures such as chemotherapy and radiation can cause a great deal of suffering, and no one should be forced to have his qualify of life destroyed when he could choose to manage the symptoms instead. Managing your own care and choosing what treatments are best is a far cry from direct action to end someone’s life. One is liberty and bodily autonomy, and the other is (and should be) a crime.

Assisted suicide is something our leaders must be willing to address, and one that the pro-life movement must not ignore. Most importantly, our churches should be teaching against this sin and corruption of the medical system. Christians need a strong theological foundation for why it is wrong for doctors to kill people and why the state as an agent of God (Romans 13) has a legitimate role in denying it.

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