Home Pharmacy practice The Value of Human Life — Waterbury Roundabout

The Value of Human Life — Waterbury Roundabout

April 29, 2022 | By Rev. Matthew Rensch

Without value. Without meaning. Useless. These are some of the most scathing insults possible. Three weeks ago, an opinion piece raised this theme in my mind. The article explained proposed updates to Bill 39, the 2013 law regarding physician-assisted dying, also known as physician-assisted suicide. Updates (invoice S.74 signed into law last week by Governor Phil Scott) need not delay us here. My grave apprehensions and objections relate to the general approval of the practice.

Of course, I understand the call. I understand where legislators come from. Assisted suicide can prevent suffering. In the absence of coercion, he dictates the patient’s choice. The number of patients choosing suicide is rather small. Overall, he seems to put on a human and compassionate face. Nevertheless, my apprehensions persist. Do these benefits justify the practice? I am not convinced.

First, with modern palliative care, how much suffering is avoided? More importantly, we must ask ourselves if This way avoiding suffering is a good thing. Not all way to avoid suffering is good. (Use your imagination). Could this one be bad too?

Second, allowing the patient to choose does not guarantee good practice. Many adult children work hard to dissuade their elderly parents from harmful ideas. Some ideas are harmful. Is this one of them?

As for the numbers, it seems that the author herself has apprehensions. “Currently, a very small number of doctors in Vermont are assisting people through this process and only one pharmacy is involved. And as stated above, very few people have availed themselves of this process. My question is: So? If assisted suicide is a good thing, why are we so worried about the numbers? If it’s a release, why is its rarity such a relief? On the whole, the reasons in favor therefore do not seem convincing.

Besides these apprehensions, there is a more serious objection, which joins my introduction. A law on assisted suicide, whatever its composition, expresses the point of view: “We agree. At this point, your life is worth nothing. Or again: “Towards the end and in suffering, it is better to die. And that’s a nihilistic position: to argue that human life has no intrinsic value, but only has value because of what you can do, or what you can contribute, or of what you can appreciate, or… of anything except because of you. Your value, just like you, drops to zero.

A law authorizing suicide, allowing it, condoning it, ultimately denies the value of human life merely as human. You have to prove your worth.

Do you remember the horror we all felt a few years ago when young Michelle Carter encouraged her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, to kill himself? How can we be horrified by what she did, if we’re okay with physician-assisted suicide? Who are we to insist that Conrad’s life had meaning and his death was a tragedy? Maybe some lives don’t make sense, and his was one of them. Once we admit that some human lives are useless, can you reasonably criticize someone’s suicidality?

No. Either human life has intrinsic value or it does not. Assisted suicide denies its intrinsic value. It’s much healthier, humane, and compassionate to recognize the value of human life, period.

From a religious point of view

The comments above are made simply as a citizen. They do not appeal to any faith or religion. These are understandable concerns to any thinking person. There is no premise that an atheist could not understand. Let no one, then, raise the specter of religious imposition.

What follows here, however, is done as a Catholic priest: The Catholic Church, understanding the divine spark in every individual, insists on the value of all human life as such. It repudiates any unjust attack on human life, even self-inflicted. Human life, with its immortal soul, is a unique good. Attacking and killing him is wrong and leads to hell.

Moreover, we follow a Lord who has overcome suffering and death. He did not run or hide. He showed us that suffering is redemptive, that suffering patiently borne leads to resurrection. A Christian may shrink from pain, but he knows that it will not triumph. Pain cannot rob us of who we are, of our value, of our meaning. Christianity recognizes that humanity’s greatest heroes were men and women willing to suffer for what is true and just.

Let there be no doubt that this law not only strikes at the root of human dignity, but is also profoundly anti-Christian.