I was watching an episode of the old TV show, Little House on the Prairie, with my friend and her daughters the other day. Jack, the dog, had been bitten (they thought) by a rabid raccoon. Pa headed out back with his shotgun to kill Jack, once he confirmed that the dog was rabid.
Euthanizing Animals Versus People
The girls hid their faces in fear—and thankfully it was a false alarm and all was well on the prairie again—but I found myself needing to explain why you would shoot an animal if it is suffering:
Because animals don’t have souls, if an animal is suffering, we kill it so it doesn’t continue to suffer pain. It’s different for humans, though. Because we have a soul and are created in the image and likeness of God, the suffering of a person can bring salvation. It has value. That’s why we would never kill a person who was suffering like we would an animal.
I think the girls understood my point—though popular media doesn’t. How often nowadays we see shows promoting assisted suicide and euthanasia because a person is in pain or has “low quality of life”…
Valuing Human Life
Perhaps that’s why I was so pleasantly surprised to hear an ad on my favorite radio station, KLOVE (a Christian station) from Focus on the Family (the same group that produced the Tebow Super Bowl ad), explaining the sanctity of life and opposing Euthanasia. On their website they explain that:
The proposed legalization of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia pose many moral and ethical concerns, particularly the implied message that some lives are not worth living. Every human, in every condition from the single cell stage of development to natural death, is made in God’s image and possesses inestimable worth. As such, the common foundation of human value and dignity is our very human nature, not our size, level of development, environment or functional capacity. Therefore, intentionally ending and thus devaluing the life of a dying patient innately opens the door to the devaluing and possible destruction of any human life.
I love hearing other groups proclaiming the Gospel of Life from the rooftops!
Health Care Proxy
I recently went to hear a bioethicist from a local, Catholic hospital speak about end of life issues. Her advice was to appoint a health care proxy rather than to sign any kind of “living will” or advanced directive.
In a living will you imagine what the future might be and you guess about how you would feel about certain types of care. Because predicting the future is an inexact science (to put it mildly!) she advised us that it is better to choose someone you trust, who knows you well and knows what actions you would want to be taken, in the event that you cannot speak for yourself. That way you can be confident that your beliefs about end of life care will be respected.