We hear a lot in our society about the importance of “death with dignity.” Often this phrase is used in the promotion of physician-assisted suicide by people who argue that those with terminal illnesses should have the right to “hasten their death” in the face of suffering. In so arguing, however, advocates of assisted suicide reinforce the idea that those who suffer have no intrinsic value as human beings that would cause society to favor sustaining their life; and as a result they strip those who suffer of any dignity at all. They seem to say that the terminally sick and aged have no inherent dignity - but it can be earned by choosing suicide.
The assisted suicide movement - like so many well-meaning “compassionate” efforts - fails because it does not recognize the inherent worth of every man, woman, and child. Dignity and value are not commodities that rise and fall on some moral market in response to the fluctuations of human frailty. They are intrinsic to what we are as humans. They are a part of our very nature, as real a part of us as the blood that flows in our veins.
Friday, July 22, 2005
This July marked the sixth anniversary of my father's death. I have written previously about how the doctor's and staff attempted to steal his dignity in the name of compassion. While reflecting on his own father's passing and that of the founder of the modern hospice movement, Dame Cecily Saunders, Marc Vander Maas at PowerBlog gets at the truth. Here's the truffle excerpt:
Posted by Scott W at 1:30 AM