At the time of writing our representatives in Parliament are debating the issue of what has become known as “Assisted Dying”. It is an emotive subject, no less for Christians than for those who speak from a humanist perspective.
None of us can bear the thought of watching the suffering of a loved one or friend when illness has overcome the power of medication, and death approaches.
It is a profound aspect of our human nature to want to alleviate the suffering of others, and those who would support the concept of “assisted dying” would argue that the logical extension of this compassion would be to allow an individual (within certain legal constraints) to be able, in his or her final days or weeks of life, to determine the time of departure.
However, this is a flawed argument and a dangerous path to follow. What, today, might be considered compassionate in the most exceptional circumstances, will almost inevitably become tomorrow’s norm. In an ageing population this will strike fear into many hearts. For others, the cost of care or the lure of inheritance will bring additional pressures to bear on the sick and vulnerable.
Life is too sacred a gift to cross this ultimately dehumanising line. However much anguish we may experience at the suffering of a loved one, my faith demands that we protect and care for the lives of vulnerable people to the very last breath.