This blog is dedicated to my parents, Buddy and Barb Duduit.
This blog also may be controversial to some – but it is my opinion. I honor and respect those who might disagree with me, so please do the same.
Last week, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill into law which makes assisted suicide a felony. Kudos to our two-term Republican governor.
Ohio House Bill 470 makes assisted suicide a third-degree felony, and anyone convicted can face up to five years in prison if convicted.
I have been involved in the pro-life movement for many years. In fact, I was on the board for Ohio Right to Life for a couple of years. I also served on an advisory board for our local Hospice organization. Naturally, when people talk and think about being pro-life, they assume you are talking about abortion.
The issue of assisted suicide and euthanasia sometimes does not get the ink that unborn babies get. And that’s okay. It’s an issue that can be extremely touchy and sensitive. After all, when we talk about euthanasia or assisted suicide, we are dealing with a person’s actual documented lifetime.
The bill that Kasich signed strengthened Ohio’s protections against assisted suicide, which previously only allowed a court to issue an injunction against anyone helping or assisting people to kill themselves.
During my years on the Ohio board and throughout my involvement in Scioto County Right to Life, I have heard many arguments from people in favor of assisted suicide. I even went through a speaker’s training course on euthanasia where I was trained how to handle heckling and tough questions. And there are some tough ones. It all comes down to education and understanding. Emotion should have no part.
But no matter how tough the questions may be, killing a person in the name of compassion is never the answer. You see, calling it compassion is a complete disguise, and it makes the people making the decision feel less guilty about reality.
No one but God can give life – therefore, God should be the only one to take a life. Sadly, the latter is not the case.
Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, issued a statement last week praising Gov. Kasich. “By making assisted suicide a felony, Ohio is taking a strong stand against those who prey on the vulnerable and amplifying our opposition to this horrendous practice,” he said. Ohio is now the fifth state to strengthen assisted suicide laws.
Some proponents argue that no one should have to die in excruciating pain or be strapped to tubes or a machine to keep them alive when there is no hope of living out a quality life.
I agree. However, having a doctor come in and basically kill that person is not right either. There is a distinct difference between allowing death to happen, and causing death. There is a time and place for that to happen. It’s not our decision — it is God’s.
I’ve been there. I’ve sat at my father’s bedside and watched him die. Several years later, I found my mother near death in her bathroom from a brain aneurysm – she died that night in Hospice care. When I found her in the afternoon, she had been lying in the floor unconscious for hours because she still had on her bathrobe. I did not simply pour a cup of coffee and wait for her to die. I reacted and called a squad and tried to revive her. That’s what we are supposed to do. We help people in need. We care for them and make them comfortable. We don’t push them aside and assume they are of no value.
And just two years ago, I stood at the foot of a hospital bed and watched my sister-in-law pass away from a long bout with cancer. In all three cases, there was medication available to ease their pain and suffering. Death eventually came — but it wasn’t invited or caused by a doctor. Death was allowed to take place naturally.
And who is to determine the quality of life? It’s the person’s life – not ours.
Another argument I have heard is that pro-lifers want the person to suffer and not be allowed to “die with dignity.”
The way a person dies has nothing to do with his or her dignity. When my father was dying in a hospital bed, he lost a little control of his bowels at times. That was not losing his dignity. A person must first live with dignity before he or she can die with dignity. It’s how my dad lived – not what happened to his bodily functions during his death that I remember. Losing control of his bowels for a few minutes during death did not erase the 30 years of memories I have of him. Dignity is earned over a lifetime.
However, this is a powerful point I want to make. Had we chosen to have a doctor come in and “help” my father die, we would have missed a wonderful and touching death. That might sound odd, so let me explain.
A few days before my father passed away from complications of lung cancer, he was awake in bed and talking up a storm and laughing. I thought he was making a rebound and might come home. The next day, he basically slipped into a coma and was not responsive for a couple of days.
My three brothers and I, along with our wives, all soon gathered in his room with my mother. The death watch was on. I can remember like it was yesterday when our current pastor Cal Ray came in to visit. We all gathered around Dad’s bed and softly sang some of his favorite hymns. Then, miraculously, Dad opened his eyes for the first time in a couple of days, turned his head toward Mom, who was sitting there holding his hand, and with a single tear trickling down his face, he smiled and took his last breath.
It was a beautiful death. It still makes me cry when I recall it–not because of sadness, but because it was so touching.
Assisted suicide would have robbed all of us of that precious memory. My dad taught me how to die with dignity then and there.
I watched my sister-in-law battle ovarian cancer three times before meeting the Lord nearly two years ago. Her life and her death left a legacy. She courageously battled cancer and demonstrated an unyielding and courageous faith that taught everyone a lesson. Though she is gone, the “DDFaith” movement remains alive and strong in Southern Ohio.
If she or her family had chosen to have a doctor end her life when she first got cancer, thousands of lives would not have been touched and changed. She lived and died with dignity and provided much-needed hope.
Another argument or question I’ve been asked is how can I be pro-life and be in favor of the death penalty at the same time? We are a nation of laws. If a person commits a crime and is found guilty in court and sentenced to death, then administer the law. That is fair and just. There are consequences for actions.
An unborn baby has no say. We need to speak for his or her right to be born.
“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 KJV
A dying person has a lot to think about, and wondering if their life is going to be extinguished by a doctor should be the last thing on their mind. And that’s what assisted suicide is – it’s asking a doctor to commit a capital offense, and sadly there have been some physicians who have done just that – all for the mighty dollar.
Having gone through the deaths of my parents, I understand the concern people have who are in favor of assisted suicide. But we as a nation cannot allow doctors to play God and take people’s lives just because they are sick. They still have value, and their lives mean something.
I have read numerous books on assisted suicide and euthanasia. I have read Seduced by Death and Dying Well as well as Dehumanizing the Vulnerable.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Seduced by Death. In the book, D.J. Bakker, MD., says “a medical science that is in need of euthanasia has to be changed as soon as possible to a medication that cares beyond cure.”
Our society today is so selfish and so caught up in itself that it places no value on human life. If the unborn child is an inconvenience – then society says to abort. If people don’t want to take care of Mom or Dad dying in a nursing home – society wants to help them slip off and not be a bother to us anymore.
Please keep in mind that the original Hippocratic Oath instructs a doctor “to do no harm.” The original oath forbids the doctor from administering poison and forbids the physician from taking part in euthanasia and/or assisted suicide.
The oath has been revised a few times since then, but the overall message remains the same. A doctor is supposed to help a person heal – not help them kill themselves. That to me is doing harm.
Gonidakis went on to say in his statement that Ohio is leading the way in honoring the dignity of the human person from conception until “natural” death. As a pro-life state with pro-life leadership, we are showing the country how to turn back the tide of assisted suicide and how to care for some of the most vulnerable members of our human family.
As I stated at the beginning of this blog, it’s a very controversial and touchy subject. Instead of writing off my mom and dad when it would have been easy to do, I helped to take care of them. Dad’s death took a few weeks to come to pass while Mom’s death only took hours. That is what I was supposed to do. After all, they took care of me when I was not able. It’s called love. It’s called life. It’s called death. Taking care of people is what we are called to do. That is compassion.
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32 KJV