|Ed Staneke's father told Dutch doctor administering |
lethal injection, "I don't want to die!"
Imagine your grandfather in a nursing home where a doctor takes his life by withholding food and water while administering massive doses of morphine.
Imagine your sister and mother encouraging your father to forego life-extending medical treatment and instead opting to die by lethal injection.
These are true stories, detailed in my US Senate testimony, that put human faces on startling reports and statistics coming out of the Netherlands about its state-sanctioned euthanasia program.
The Netherlands now reports that three percent of its citizens die at the hands of doctors, including many not suffering from terminal diseases. Dutch government officials boast of strict controls, imagining that they somehow can manage medical killing like Dutch dikes manage encroaching waters.
But real-life statistics obtained behind the cloak of government propaganda reveal that the program clearly has careened out of control.
In the early 1990's, statistics in the government-sponsored Dutch Remmelink report revealed that normalizing medical killing and putting doctors above the law had translated into doctors killing thousands of patients who never consented to be killed.
Colleague Peter Saunders, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship in England, details the just-released 2013 statistics that reveal how medical killing since then has mushroomed to the point where euthanasia now accounts for three percent of all Dutch deaths.
For a comparison of the magnitude of this percentage, consider that the World Health Organization reports that HIV/AIDS accounts for nearly three percent of the world's deaths annually.
Euthanasia is to the Netherlands what HIV/AIDS is to the world.
It's easy to imagine how well-educated and highly respected doctors, daily entrusted with life and death decisions, can come to think that they know better than the unwilling patients they euthanize. But what about the individuals who clearly choose euthanasia?
· Some choose euthanasia because they are afraid to die, especially if a disease means they will die in a physical condition they consider undignified. While understandable, this view neglects that our character--not the condition of our bodies--determines true dignity. Physical beauty and health do not dignify a person; character, courage and love dignify a person.
· Others choose euthanasia because they feel a duty to die. They don't want to feel like a burden to family members. Sometimes they simply do not realize that their loved ones would never see them as a burden and would consider it a privilege to minister to their needs. Too often, however, aged patients correctly discern that family members would not want to take the time or bear the inconvenience of caring for them. This perceived pressure to die poses a strong reason not to legalize medical killing--either assisted suicide or euthanasia.
· Still others choose euthanasia because they fear pain and don't realize how medical advances in pain control could ease their pain. Hospice also provides what many patients and their families have found to be a comforting and satisfying way to cope with end-of-life issues.
As we advocate in the public square for policies that promote true compassion and palliative care rather than medical killing, we do well to also address the deeply personal and spiritual motivations behind the drive for assisted suicide and euthanasia. Reassure your elderly family members often of your love for them and your commitment to their care. Share how God can make life meaningful, even at the end of life. Hold a hand, change a bedpan, read Scripture and pray with those facing the end of their lives on earth.
"Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things…" --I Timothy 6:12-13.