Do you believe that God was your creator and it the one, not you, who decides when you die? Photo by Cathy Lynn Grossman

If you had an incurable condition or disease, if you were in severe pain, would you tell the doctors to back away and let you die?

Is your life your own or God’s?

What does it mean to let go of hope in this world, even it you still have hopes for the next?

If you asked a doctor for a lethal prescription, is that morally okay?

Okay, I’m up to five questions and counting. (Faith & Reason followers know that’s typical for me.)

Today’s cascade of questions is prompted by the Pew Research Center survey on nearly 2,000 American’s views of End of Life treatments, released today. It looks at decisions people would make for themselves or for family, at suicide and physician assisted dying and more. A major finding is that race, religion and ethnicity play a big role in how people answer.

But none of the questions address why people make the choices they make. There’s no way to determine from the data if ideas about the roles of faith, family or God or miracles make a difference.

One source told me that the people who have made use of the physician-assisted dying law in Oregon were “upper income, highly educated, fiercely independent individuals who are accustomed to having things their way.”

Is that you?

Tell me what you would do – and why.

4 Comments

  1. I learned that an elderly woman I know deliberately chose to stop eating and drinking rather than spend her last years in a nursing home. She died within two weeks. It was legal.

    Given a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and the prospect of terrible expenses for care looming ahead, which is better: To create a crippling burden financially on your family or choose to die by starvation? I was told she died peacefully, having lost the desire to eat with the use of over the counter medication to remove the thirst.

    Which decision is the compassionate one?

  2. I think that we must draw a distinction between avoiding medical treatment and partaking of medical suicide.

    As a Christian I find medically induced suicide morally wrong. To me, it is equally a disregard and disrespect for life as is abortion: the willful and deliberate extinguishing of a human life simply to satisfy personal desires. Likewise (and perhaps it is the Protestant in me!), I find there to be value in suffering. Romans 5:1-5 sums it up nicely. Theology of the cross if you will.

    Likewise, I believe medically induced suicide runs contrary to medical ethics pertaining to the preservation of life.

    This said, I do not believe Christians have any ethical obligation to extend life longer than nature would permit. If I am severely ill, medical care and technology is a choice. I don’t not find it immoral to, rather, accept my fate and my mortality.

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