Q • In connection with the issue of euthanasia, recent studies have shown that at least 80 percent of a person’s total health costs are spent on him/her after he/she reaches the age of 80. This means that this money is being spent to prolong the life of an elderly person who normally has only a few years to live anyway. Doesn’t this fact provide a justification for euthanasia?
A • What exactly is euthanasia? Euthanasia can be defined as putting a person to death either by withholding or removing what is necessary to prolong life, such as medical care or food, or by administering something which will bring about death, such as a lethal injection.
Financial questions should never determine the legality of euthanasia. God’s word is our only standard for deciding whether anything is right or wrong, and God’s word tells us plainly that we are not to kill ourselves or others.
Euthanasia is immoral because it denies that God is the only one Who has the right to give and take life. Man wants to decide when to die. And not only does man believe he has the right to determine this for himself, but he also wants to determine this for other people. In both instances man is breaking the sixth commandment.
We may never argue, therefore, that euthanasia is wrong for most people but okay for old people because they do not have long to live and because it often costs so much to keep them alive. The life of an old person is just as precious as that of a young child or a baby or even an unborn child.
There are, however, other questions associated with euthanasia. For example, if someone is being kept alive by artificial means through life support equipment, is it wrong to “pull the plug”? Should this person even be put on this life support equipment in the first place? Another problem is defining when a person is actually dead – is it to be determined by heart activity, or by brain activity, or by both? There is also the question of whether we must, in all cases, use every medical means available to prolong life?
It is impossible to answer all these questions now. However, if anyone is interested in a detailed discussion of these questions and of the whole issue of euthanasia Professor Hanko has written a series of articles on this ethical issue, and they can be found in volume 64 of The Standard Bearer.
Perhaps even some of our readers have ideas concerning these questions and the issue of euthanasia. If this is so we would welcome your contribution to the Beacon Lights.