Secularize This

Saturday, June 4, 2011

One Soldier vs. an Army

Yesterday, the world lost a true visionary. Dr. Jack Kevorkian passed away at the age of 83. Dr. Kevorkian ruffled a lot of feathers with his work of assisting terminally ill patients that elected in their own free will that it was their time to go. They did not want to endure anymore suffering and did not want to put their families through anymore hardships. Dr. Kevorkian was a pioneer in the world of medicine, and yet, more than two decades later only a few states now allow assisted suicide.

Yes, there is a moral dilemma about this topic. Doctor's take an oath to treat patients and prevent disease. Part of the Hippocratic Oath states that "I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick." Prolonging the life of someone that is terminally ill opens the flood gates to extreme medical costs with doctor visits, hospital stays, even surgeries just to try and make the patient comfortable and prolonging the inevitable. If someone, of sound state of mind, elects to end their suffering, we as a society owe that to the individual. Why just let them wither away in a hospital bed (increasing medical bills) and give them a button to dose them with morphine (that is only limited to so much and does not always take away the pain)? Is this the humane thing to do, is this the ethical thing to do or is this the capitalistic thing to do?

When we have pets that have gotten to a certain age where they become riddled with cancerous tumors, start going blind, or cannot control their bowels or bladder, we as the pet owners have to take that long drive to the veterinary office and make that call for euthanasia because it is the humane thing to do. We don't prolong the suffering of our fellow living creatures (created by God if you believe that). One argument is that God has the final say on when we die. If that is the case, aren't we playing god when we make the decision to put our beloved pets down? It's nothing easy to witness if you're truly attached to your pet, I can only imagine what it would be like for someone doing this to their kin. Genesis 1:26 states that "God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."

This is not a topic to split hairs on. This is my body, I own my body. Nature gave the this body to do as I will with it. There are healthy and non-healthy things I can consume. There are helpful drugs and harmful drugs that I can partake in, but all of them are my choices. Assisted suicide is not a matter of vanity, ethics or morality. It is up to the individual that is enduring the suffering and to have them discuss it with their loved ones who are enduring the suffering by proxy. The closest we have today, in most areas, to assisted suicide is "pulling the plug". This is where all life support measures are turned off and the patient is drugged to "provide comfort". I recently saw this first hand with my mother in law passing at the end of March this year. When they turned off the respirator, the doctor said "if she appears to be struggling for air, let us know so we can give her more drugs". The tone he said this with was cold and unwelcomed. I'm not saying that my mother in law would have wanted to use assisted suicide, she loved life and loved seeing her grandchildren grow up to become their own personalities. But there are countless others out there that are struggling, suffering through the pain of terminal illness that have no medical hope to get better and yet, they are forced to suffer until "God" chooses to take them from this Earth. God gave dominion to man over the entire earth, over every creature on the earth. Man is a god created creature, we should have the same end of life privileges that we grant our family pets. Thank you Dr. Kevorkian for your outlook on life and how to help loved ones pass on peacefully. You will be missed.

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