In 2016 Colorado voted to legalize physician-assisted suicide. The law lets doctors prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill people who want to end their lives.
We have written in the past about studies and reports on assisted suicide in Canada and California. In most cases, people who opt to take their own lives are educated, affluent individuals accustomed to making their own decisions. But another trend is emerging: In some states, most of the people who seek physician-assisted suicide are not married.
According to reports out of Colorado, of the 56 people prescribed suicide drugs last year, 31 — about 55% — were not married.
The Oregon Health Authority reports that about 53% of the people who have taken their own lives since the state legalized physician-assisted suicide in 1998 were not married.
And Washington State reports that in 2016, 57% of those who sought assisted suicide also were not married at the time of death.
This raises a serious question: What roles do marriage or loneliness play in decisions about physician-assisted suicide?
A 2004 study published in the British Medical Journal found,
In general, widowed, single, and divorced elderly people have a higher risk of suicide, with marriage seeming to be protective. Bereavement is also associated with attempted and completed suicide in elderly people—men seem especially vulnerable after the loss of a spouse, with a relative risk three times that of married men.
Although the study noted some exceptions, married adults appeared less likely to commit suicide, overall.
So what does this mean for physician-assisted suicide?
Proponents generally claim physician-assisted suicide helps terminally ill people end their excruciating pain and suffering.
In practice, however, pain and suffering don’t seem to be the reasons people opt for assisted suicide.
A study conducted in Oregon in 1999 concluded, “the decision to request and use a prescription for lethal medications . . . was associated with views on autonomy and control, not with fear of intractable pain or concern about financial loss.” I would add that based on other reports and studies, loneliness also seems to be a factor.
People need to understand what actually drives the demand for assisted suicide. Christians also need to understand why there is nothing compassionate about helping a person take his or her own life.
As we have said time and time again, being pro-life is about much more than opposing abortion. We do not eliminate suffering by eliminating people who are suffering. We must respect the sanctity of human life at the end of life as well as at the beginning.
Photo Credit: By Jeff Belmonte from Cuiabá, Brazil (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
The State of Washington recently moved to legalize commercial surrogacy, allowing people to pay women to bear children for them.
Previously, surrogates could be reimbursed for their medical bills and related expenses, but they could not be hired or paid to be surrogate mothers.
John Stonestreet at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview writes,
Women can now rent out their wombs in Washington State.
Sponsors of the bill insisted that the goal of the legislation is to reduce the suffering of infertile couples. But its real-world result will be to further commodify human life and exploit desperate women.
American law on this subject is difficult to pin down. A few states, like Washington, explicitly permit surrogacy. Some just look the other way; and then others, like New York, explicitly prohibit it.
This ambiguity is not the case around the world.
A 2015 European Union Parliament resolution condemned paid surrogacy, because it “undermines the human dignity of the woman since her body and its reproductive functions are used as a commodity.” It called the practice exploitative, violence against women, and “a matter of urgency in human rights.”
And you know what? In this case, the EU is 100 percent correct.
Family Council opposes commercial surrogacy, in part, because we believe it amounts to buying and selling babies. That’s why we supported Rep. Greg Leding’s 2017 bill prohibiting commercial surrogacy in Arkansas; unfortunately the bill never came up for a vote before the legislature adjourned.
According to The Kansas City Star, the Satanic Temple has filed a federal lawsuit opposing a pro-life law in Missouri.
The Satanic Temple reportedly filed the lawsuit on behalf of a Missouri woman, claiming the state’s informed consent law requiring doctors to wait 72 hours before performing an abortion is unconstitutional.
Although I doubt the Satanists will be able to get the courts to strike down Missouri’s informed consent law, the case could have ramifications for Arkansas.
Arkansas and Missouri have similar informed-consent laws for abortion, and both states are in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
That means a pro-life victory for Missouri in the Eighth Circuit could help reinforce pro-life laws in Arkansas or shape our state’s pro-life legislation in the future.