One by one, the Australian states have adopted extreme euthanasia laws, to go alongside their extreme abortion laws and their celebration of LGBTQI lifestyles. Now, New South Wales is being pressed as the last domino to fall, as it were. We are all supposed to be progressive these days, and nowhere is more progressive than sunny California. It has long been a role model for those who have no other moral compass.
In June 2016 the End of Life Option Act came into operation in California. It allowed a dying patient to obtain a drug from his or her doctor in order to bring life to an end. It was hailed, as these things are, as a ‘Death with Dignity’ piece of legislation. Yet one story after another has revealed how debased is the culture of death, even when dressed up as mercy. A mother of four young children, Stephanie Packer, was afflicted with cancer, and she looked to her medical insurance to grant her coverage for chemotherapy. The American system of health insurance is not identical to that which operates in Australia – thankfully – but human nature is the same everywhere.
Mrs Packer’s insurance company denied her coverage for chemotherapy. When it was pressed, it prevaricated for a time, but did agree to supplying the drugs needed for physician-assisted suicide. The cost of these came to $1.20. Mrs Packer was shocked and feeling hurt, to add to her existing struggles with cancer. The obvious point is that, since California opted for euthanasia (the so-called ‘good death’), it has become legal and more convenient to promote death rather than life. Palliative care costs more than $1.20.
What is life worth? We were confronted with that question when our fifth child required an air ambulance to get him to Sydney for open heart surgery on the first day of his life. He was not expected to survive, and I was informed that the cost of the flight was $20,000. I had been downcast, but the adrenalin got flowing in responding to the implications that were behind that piece of information. For Mrs Packer, apparently, the answer is $1.20.
Jesus asks us: ‘For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?’ (Matt.16:26) One soul is worth more than the whole world.
We live in a closed-in world which increasingly denies spiritual realities. So the NSW bill has a number of worrying aspects:
- It assumes that motives are always pure;
- It assumes that consent is given and that people will not change their minds;
- the patient’s own doctor does not have to be involved;
- depression can be enough reason for the death sentence;
- the consciences of those opposed to killing with kindness are over-ridden in practice;
- and the whole process will be shrouded in secrecy and deceit.
One does not have to be a prophet to predict that verbal consent to the suicide will not always be obligatory. In addition, children will be put to death, as is legal in both Belgium and the Netherlands.
A suffering patient already has the right to refuse treatment. Cancer patients, for example, can reach the stage where more chemotherapy is beyond them. That can be thought through and prayed through. That is not what the NSW bill is about. ‘Death with dignity’ is the slogan; ‘killing for convenience’ is likely to be the reality.