Society & Politics

Not dead yet!

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Jim Derksen

In this article Jim Derksen argues against legislation currently being considered in Canada that would legalize assisted suicide. As a person with disabilities, Derksen worries that this legislation reflects a devaluation of those with disabilities in contemporary Western society. He also claims that legalizing assisted suicide for those with a terminal illness or severe chronic pain is a slippery slope. Some terminal illnesses, after all, can be stable for decades and still allow for a long life. And what do we mean by severe chronic pain? He points out that in Belgium and the Netherlands this includes “existential and emotional pain.”

Notwithstanding the difficulty with definitions of illness and pain, Derksen says that once society stops devaluing disability, he himself “will no longer oppose the legalization of assisted suicide for all who freely choose it.” However, by making the free choice of the individual the basis for his political decision, Derksen ignores the more basic foundation of the sanctity of life and the biblical view of humans as "persons" who must consider our relationship with God and with other people, not just our own "individual" desires. Christians must reflect on how this impacts their political engagement on an issue such as assisted suicide.

What does it mean for Christians to seek the common good in political engagement on an issue such as assisted suicide?

How may Christians support the sanctity of life while maintaining active compassion for those suffering from severe pain, terminal illness or disability?

Source: Geez Magazine

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