It is increasingly insufficient to refer to what St. John Paul II called “the culture of death.” Depending on where you’re standing, it’s become less of a culture and more of a passionate nationwide mania.
The scandal at Planned Parenthood—in which a ring of abortion profiteers chopped up little babies and sold their organs to the highest bidder while joking about sports cars—has been met with an essentially indifferent response by the media and most Americans in general. For all appearances we seem to have reached peak abortion, wherein the nation’s largest baby-killer can admit to a baby-killing criminal conspiracy on video and still get away with it.
“It’s a nothingburger,” Kevin Drum said at Mother Jones, proving that Mother Jones is capable of responding to inhuman brutality with all the grace of a sneering, amoral adolescent creep.
We should not be surprised when this kind of radical contempt for human life begins to spread beyond the dirty little clinics and the death-mills of Planned Parenthood.
Suicide Is Cool As Long as You’re Sure
From California comes yet another plank in the death brigade’s never-ending demands for more death. Yesterday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill legalizing physician-assisted suicide. California is now the fifth state to permit doctors to help kill their patients by prescribing them lethal overdoses of drugs: Oregon, Montana, Washington, and Vermont already allow it. California’s passage of the law means that, in 10 percent of American states, it is legal for a doctor to knowingly help destroy his patient’s life.
Not content to simply legitimize suicide in the eyes of their state government, California’s legislature also stacked the law with several layers of profound irony: the law expires in ten years, suicidal patients must make three requests for the deadly prescription (once in writing with two witnesses present), and they must sign a form a couple of days before they kill themselves.
Democratic State Sen. Bill Monning calls these clauses “protections.” The irony is this: the California government considers life precious enough to make suicidal people jump through hoops to kill themselves with pills, but not precious enough to simply outlaw doctor-assisted suicide altogether. “Kill yourself with our blessing,” lawmakers are saying, “but only within a ten-year window, and only if you’re super-duper sure about it, okay?”
Death Is a New Way of Life
California is past the point of a “culture of death:” with some of the loosest abortion laws in the country, and legalized doctor-assisted suicide now a reality, it’s perhaps more accurate to say that, in the Golden State, death is something of a way of life. It is wholly likely that instances of doctor-assisted suicide will spike in that state—the same thing happened in Oregon.
One can observe the same phenomenon in Europe, as well. Belgium’s instances of euthanasia rose upon its legalization in 2008, and the number of euthanasia requests granted jumped from a little over half in 2007 to a little over three-quarters in 2013. The Netherlands decriminalized euthanasia a little over a decade ago, and now nearly a third of suicide requests are due to the patient’s being “tired of living.” In turns out that when you make suicide legal and accessible, more people will kill themselves.
The pro-life movement must not yield to this. Much of our efforts have appropriately fixated on abortion over the last few decades, but we must not forget that abortion is not the only way to die, and babies are not the only forms of life. The elderly, the sick, the mentally ill, those who find life exhausting or terrifying or boring: these are lives, too, and they are inestimably precious, gifts from God and examples of self-evident priceless beauty.
All Lives Matter
The demands for legalized euthanasia are symptoms of a failure of imagination. Suicidal people believe they are not worthy of life or that life is not worth living, and they do not wish to burden anyone with a slow death and the palliative care that slow deaths necessitate.
But death is a part of life—a dying person is still living—and as stewards of life we should not be cowards in the face of it. Those with dying friends and loved ones must care for them; those who are dying must allow themselves to be cared for. There is no greater service you can provide to a dying person than this care, and no greater privilege you can give to those who are doing the caring. I know.
California has made it legal for doctors to do something doctors are never supposed to do. Perhaps other state legislatures, struck by the horror of it all, will hold off on legalizing this barbarous practice. Maybe we’ll see a pushback in the face of this growing movement. But it always comes back, and it always will.
Pro-lifers have spent years and years explaining why it is wrong to take another’s life. We must not forget to explain, too, why it is wrong to take your own, and why your own life is just as precious and indispensable as anyone else’s.