By Judie Brown
It seems that it’s becoming easier to pick and choose when we should take the life of a human being—and that all too often those people who are chosen to die are the elderly, the sick, or the preborn. God has bestowed life upon us all and we must respect and honor the life of each and every person at all times.
Nearly two years ago, the European Union voted to ban export to the United States of lethal injection drugs used for the execution of prisoners on death row. This is ironic given the fact that, among the citizens living in those EU states, assisted suicide—which requires ingestion of a lethal drug—is overwhelmingly supported. Assisted suicide is already permitted in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. The German government is proposing the legalization of it; the British government is discussing it; and the French are debating it.
In addition to the problem of euthanasia by way of assisted suicide, Paul Tully of Britain’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children says, “We are also seeing disturbing abuses of palliative care, through incentivized pathways for example, which are being used to hasten or bring about death in many cases. The pressure is on health trusts to put budgets before good care. This situation is being exploited by those who think that people with limited lives or serious disabilities should be helped to die.”
If this sounds eerily reminiscent of what is going on in the United States, that’s because there are parallels that cannot be ignored. Many people, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, oppose the use of the death penalty by any means. The argument is that outlawing the death penalty brings America one step closer to restoring a culture of life. But when we think about the number of people who die annually from the death penalty versus the number who die from assisted suicide and other forms of euthanasia, we have to wonder whether the USCCB’s emphasis may be askew.
Let the numbers speak for themselves: In 2012,43 inmates died by execution in the prisons of this nation. In the state of Washington alone in 2012, 83 people died of assisted suicide while, that same year, 77 people died from assisted suicide in Oregon. The provision of lethal drugs did not appear to be a problem in those states—at least not for killing the ill whose choice was death instead of life.
And today at the national level, with the advent of the Affordable Care Act and all of the implications that go with it, we are slowly beginning to call assisted suicide “death with dignity.” We are becoming sensitized to the fact that euthanasia comes in a variety of disguises. But we must remember that the end result is always death. The ability of one person to acquire the means of killing another person, when that person is ready to kill himself, is euthanasia, pure and simple—no matter what name it is given.
Instead of offering comfort and selfless love, too many around the world—from the European Union to our own backyard—prefer the arms-length approach, even when the other person is a family member.
So we come back to the beginning of this article and the refusal of one lawmaking body to export lethal drugs to the United States because those drugs are to be used for killing a criminal. Yet the killing of the innocent is thriving and becoming more popular daily. In this topsy-turvy world, one thing is clear: There are certain politically correct actions, such as opposing the death penalty, that are welcomed and, at times, applauded. Meanwhile, there are other actions that result in the death of the vulnerable that are summarily dismissed as nothing more than helping the suffering exercise final control over their own bodies.
There is no logical explanation for this situation other than the certainty that the culture of death is alive and well. The masquerade continues, the body count rises, and the masses have no clue.
Judie Brown is president and cofounder of American Life League and a three-time appointee to the Pontifical Academy for Life.