"I sought among them for a man that might set up a hedge, and stand in the gap before me in favor of the land." Ezekiel 22:30

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

TIME Magazine on "Aid-in-Dying" a.k.a. Euthanasia

TIME Magazine recently published this doozy of an article:

A Good Death: How Baby Boomers Will Change the World A Final Time

I'd like to know what reactions others have had to it. It's a little shocking to my sensibilities at first, but considering what I know about modern culture, nothing espoused in the article is surprising.

Here's a little snippet:

Boomers don’t see it that way. To them, a good death is more about a good life. When they can’t have that any longer, it’s time to pull the plug. This will be the first generation to broadly eschew painful life-extending procedures and make the most of palliative care to live better in fewer days, and then die with dignity.
The third sentence stood out to me. "When they can't have that any longer, it's time to pull the plug."

If a more selfish sentence was ever written, I would be surprised.

I just attended the funeral of an uncle yesterday. Funerals really put life into perspective. They are a reminder that we are mortal, and only God knows how much longer we have. Death really is the ultimate submission: submission to our own mortality, to the natural order, and ultimately, submission to God. That is why any deliberate action to bring about death (murder, suicide, etc) is so contrary to the law and the will of God.

But this baby boomer generation just can't seem to grasp that.

If you have thoughts, please leave a comment. I'm curious to know what you think.


  1. I believe that a person has the right to choose the end of their life - just as parents have the ability to (basically) choose when to have a child. It takes an act to bring someone into this world, and in appropriate circumstance, another acceptable act to end their existence here.

    Until we're in the shoes of someone who's dying, who are we to judge how they feel? I can recall a memory of my great-grandfather when I was about 9 or 10 years old. He was in the weeds of Alzheimer's and nearly completely mentally gone. Once in a while he would call me by my uncle's name, thinking I was a 10-year-old version of my Uncle Mike.

    After he was in a senior living home well equipped for patients like him for about 3 years (approaching 91 or 92 years of age), I recall one day him apparently snapping out of the black hole in his mind and remembering who he was - everything was crystal clear. I'll never forget him looking at my mom, crying and telling her "I don't want to be here. I'm alive because of those machines - not because I'm supposed to be here. I wish this was over now." He called each of us by name; we knew he was seeing the world clearly through his departed memory.

    I didn't see him with any clarity for a single moment after that. He continued to be lost and confused, only living because of the selfishness of those around him - me, my family - by keeping him alive on those machines. When you refer to the second sentence above as being the most selfish you've seen, I'd retort that I've felt what it's like to be the selfish family of a man wishing he could see the end of his days. It was not for me to decide; it should have been his choice.

    He lived for another two or three years completely blank and without knowing anyone. He couldn't feel, he couldn't understand and there was absolutely zero quality in his life. He couldn't pray because he didn't know who God was. While in his right mind, why should we deny him - or anyone in a position like his - the ability for him to make that decision himself?

  2. Matty, thanks for taking me up on the invitation to comment. The story of your great-grandfather is touching and saddening.

    Actually, I'd have to agree with most of what you said. I probably should have been a little more clear with what I posted originally. That's what happens when you try to do something in a hurry.

    I think we disagree in degree, not in kind, in this situation. For example, I don't disagree with you that sometimes it is the "living" who don't want to "let go" when our dying family members just want to make their peace and move on. That's a perfectly natural reaction that has been part of human nature since time began. Furthermore, I don't believe, nor does the Catholic Church teach, that we should unnaturally prolong our lives. In fact, we should probably not resort to machines for some of the very reasons you enumerated. How I see it, if you or a loved one can't even breath without help, requiring a machine to physically create the breathing movement, it might be time to say goodbye.

    But, what I don't support is artificially ending life whenever we feel like it (even at the bitter end); hence my comment about selfishness. There is a difference between "pulling the plug" on a machine, and "pulling the plug" on life itself, you might say. Death is part of suffering; suffering is part of death. Modern medicine can do a lot to reduce or manage pain. So, even if life is not artificially prolonged, living can be painful, which is why we should strive to reduce pain, but ultimately let God, the author of life itself, decide when it is our time to go.

    This end of life discussion is fairly nuanced and difficult to wrap our heads around. Ultimately, my opinion falls in line with Church teaching which supports life from conception until natural death. At the very least, that is a consistent position.

    Thanks again for your comment! Hope you are doing well!