There’s an interesting exchange of letters in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette over the past month. In January, a Dr. Martha Duffy, who is from Worcester, wrote a letter to the editor supporting doctor-prescribed suicide as a valid choice for everyone.
As a family doctor, I take care of people at all stages of life: from birth, through childhood, onto adulthood, finally to death. Most of us are comfortable with the early stages of life, but many would rather not talk about death or dying. I have seen good deaths: peaceful and surrounded by loved ones, and I have seen terrible deaths. For terminally ill people, not being able to talk about, and plan for their death can be very distressing and harmful.
She then urged readers to contact the Public Health Committee to urge them to “offer death with dignity for those who would choose it.”
Then just this last week, Fr. Anthony Kazarnowicz of Fort Riley, Kansas, wrote a letter to Telegram with a counter-argument that notes at root both abortion and doctor-prescribed suicide appeal to the same selfish impulses that place “choice” and “control” over the well-being of the patients.
At the root of these murders is the cultural rejection of Judeo-Christian faith and morality. Decades ago, most Americans identified their sufferings with Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. Accepting their sufferings (as Christ accepted his) gave suffering patients peace, added strength to their prayers and gave them hope of resurrected life and eternal reward. It also removed fear of eternal punishment for taking their own lives.
Minus this biblical worldview, physician-assisted killings of terminally ill patients will eventually expand to killing patients with (non-terminal) long-term suffering, to killing the permanently handicapped, the mentally ill, the elderly, the brokenhearted - anyone who believes his/her life is not worth living with suffering.
Thank you, Fr. Kazarnowicz, for making the connection and for speaking up for those for whom the result of “choice” in these instances is premature death.