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“When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Prov 29:2)

“Death Law Resurrected”

For Christians, the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death is a foundational principle.  While abortion has, rightfully so, been at the forefront of our concerns, the culture of death has gradually grown in power to include euthanasia and physician assisted suicide (PAS).  Last year Assembly Bill 651 was introduced to legalize PAS but failed to make it out of committee.  Unfortunately, it has been resurrected in the current legislature as AB 374.  This bill would allow a person with an incurable disease, and who is expected to die within six months, to receive a life-ending medical prescription.

If the rhetoric is believed, you’ll become convinced a person has a right to end their own life, and that it’s our responsibility to allow them to die with dignity by use of active means.  There are many emotional arguments to support premature ending of life, including: predications of “imminent” death; financial burdens; extreme physical pain; poor quality of life; potential organ harvesting; family emotional trauma; and the like.  It’s deceptively easy to believe it’s best for everyone when a doctor kills a loved one that’s facing death anyway.  I challenge that assertion, and condemn the callousness that treats life as expendable when it becomes inconvenient or costly.

I don’t want to trivialize the suffering that many may face during the last days of their life.  I know what the heartache is like when a loved one is suffering and dying.  But I also know that effective pain management techniques exist, hospice care is available, and that the last days when one succumbs to death can be precious moments of ministry and closure.  I say this because, as a Christian, I realize that God is the One that has numbered our days (Job 14:5), and He alone is both the giver and taker of life (Deut 32:39).  I also know we’re not to take innocent life or commit suicide (Gen 9:5-6; Ex 20:13).  This includes doctors, who have taken an oath to preserve and protect life, not destroy it.  We’re unique in the created order since we are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27), and have a unique dignity and worth (Psalm 8:4-6) that animals and plants will never have.  As a result, we’re to show compassion and give comfort to the dying, the weak and the frail (Prov 31:6-7), not help them commit suicide.  A Biblical worldview leads to a culture of life, but the secular, relativistic, pragmatic, evolutionary, post-modern worldviews that permeate so much of our society only breed a culture of death.

Legislation allowing “mercy killing” was legalized in the Netherlands many years ago (Oregon more recently).   A casual review of lessons learned from the Netherlands shows that the patient’s desires become inconsequential as judgments by others on their quality of life become the determining factors.

Are end of life issues easy – of course not.  But killing is not the answer.  Prolonging imminent death using extraordinary means with no possibility of improvement is also not the answer, since this only makes an idol out of life. Allowing imminent death to occur naturally, however, while giving comfort (measured pain relief, medication, and nourishment), will honor life. 

Remember, that when the “right to die” becomes enshrined in our thinking and practice, it is only a short step to a “duty to die” to prevent hardship on others, which in turn will become a “license to kill”.   Abortion was very limited for most of our history.  When legalized it eventually became common and justified for any or no reason at all throughout the nine months of pregnancy.  Why would anyone think physician assisted suicide would be anything other than a similar slippery slope?

For more information on AB 374 and issues associated with it, go to   I strongly encourage you to voice your opinion to our legislators.  Government must be held accountable when it fails in its fundamental role of protecting innocent life.  It has failed shamefully concerning the unborn; let’s make sure it doesn’t destroy the weak and frail at the other end of a person’s natural life.

Frank Kacer
Executive Director, Christian Citizenship Council of San Diego

First published as a Guest Commentary in the April 2007 issue of Good News Etc.