The State of California recently passed into law what is known as “Physician-assisted suicide.” That is, doctors will no longer be charged with a crime for assisting those who want to end their lives by suicide. The California State legislature passed the bill and it went to the governor’s desk for approval where it sat pending his signature. Governor Jerry Brown expressed his concern over whether or not to sign or veto it, due to the controversial nature of the bill. After a time, he signed it, passing it into law.
Governor Brown was educated in a Jesuit college and knows well the position of the Catholic Church on this issue. He said that his consultations on the bill included the work of theologians and ethicists. Yet in making his decision, he admitted the case of some individuals wanting to end their lives weighed more heavily and moved him to sign the bill.
So California has now joined the ranks of the other four states who’ve passed doctor-assisted suicide rulings. This seems to be another moral ruling, like same sex marriage, that will snow-ball and steam-roller the entire country. It harbingers more such legislation that erases traditional morality and biblically consistent ethics.
In 1983, then President Ronald Reagan wrote a book which seems now prescient. It was titled Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation. Reagan expressed his concern about the slippery slope the US had embarked on due to the Roe v Wade decision of 1973. He warned that abortion on demand would lead to a cheapening of life and that things that then seemed morally repugnant would become common, eventually passing into law. He warned of things like infanticide and “mercy-killing.”
Reagan was ridiculed for warning of this slippery slope, as has been anyone else who’s sought to arrest culture’s head-long slide into the moral morass that has become the contemporary scene. We’re not at the top of the slippery slope; we’re well down its decline and moving rapidly toward the depths.
One of the great shocks to modernity came with the close of World War II and revelations about just what had been going on inside the Third Reich under the Nazis. The Holocaust was a blow to the collective conscience of the entire world. A profound challenge was set before the civilization: How is it possible that a people as sophisticated and advanced as 20th Century Germans have participated in the systematic extermination of entire group of people? The problem is, it seems people were so disturbed by what the Holocaust suggested, they didn’t bother to seek the answer to that question. They really ought to have.
Years before Hitler and the Nazis embarked on The Final Solution to the “Jewish Problem,” the medical and scientific interests of Europe in general and Germany in particular advocated means to enhance the quality of life. As evolution became the accepted mechanism of scientific inquiry, it moved from being a way to understand the past, to a way to forecast the future. Some voice inside the scientific and medical fields began to suggest ways evolution could be assisted, helped along in producing better humans. Decried s heartless at first, lone voices claimed that survival of the fittest was a rule to be followed, not something to be overcome by kindness or charity. Maybe the disable and handicapped ought to be left aside to die, rather than wasting limited resources n them. After all, we don’t want them adding their weak genes to the human pool, thus hindering our evolution. And so eugenics was born, a philosophy gladly embraced by people like Margaret Sanger. Sanger and fellow eugenicists went further and suggested there were entire races that ought to be weeded out. She was an early supporter of Hitler and the Nazis, lauding their bold experiment in seeking to produce the “ubermensch” a superior race of supermen. If that meant eradicating a few of the sub-human races, it was worth the price. The end justified the means, even if that meant the current sensitivities of the civilized world stood appalled. The brave and visionary are often misunderstood by their contemporaries. But history vindicates them. These are the things the Nazis told themselves and people like Sanger applauded.
History does NOT applaud the Nazis and Final Solution. We regard it as high water mark for evil. But Sanger managed to escape the moral stink that ought to have clung to her and discredited her entirely. She instead followed through on her racist and eugenics-driven agenda and launched Planned Parenthood, which has been in the public eye of late for the absurdly and illegal way it regards the remains of aborted children. Planned Parenthood has always been interested in one thing; making money. That is why it teaches sex-education in schools; to encourage sexual activity in the hopes young women will get pregnant, then seek out an abortion at one of their facilities. And if there’s money to be made off the products of abortion, then by all means, take advantage of them. And why not? Note the ethical schizophrenia of our society which says abortion is fine because it’s not a human being, but when it’s in pieces after the abortion, suddenly those pieces deserve some kind of protection and respect?
But I digress. The point I wish to make is that when we devalue life at one end, at birth, it’s inevitable we’ll devalue it at the other end as well, as one nears death. And now that Physician-assisted suicide is legal, increasing numbers will ask for assistance to end their lives for less medically-substantiated reasons. It begins with the terminally ill who are wracked by intense pain. Then it will be the terminal with little prospect of recovery. Then it will be those with intense psychological pain. The diseased seeking to end it will become merely the distressed. And don’t accuse me of being reactionary or resorting to a “slippery-slope” argument. That slope is real. Look where we are for goodness sake.
But that is not where it’s going to end. There is a far more sinister direction all this is headed. That’s why I mentioned the Nazis earlier. Modern Western Culture is retracing the same pathway as Germany in the 1920’s and 30’s. Eugenics and euthanasia were adopted from the scientific and medical fields by the Nazis and applied first to political dissidents; people who refused to go along with Hitler’s vison of the Third Reich. People who spoke out against the Nazis were quietly rounded up and hauled off to special camps like Buchenwald, built in the forest not far from Weimar, a center of high culture. Buchenwald housed political dissidents long before Jews and Slavs were imprisoned there.
The Bible paints a picture of the future when people will be executed for refusing to go along with the economic-political system of an end times tyrant. It may seem extreme to us know that such a thing could happen, but both history and current trends make clear such days may not be that far off.