Physician-assisted suicide is attacking human dignity. In a culture that says our value is based upon what we have and what we do, it is important to take a stand against anything that says this idea. One of the positions attacking human dignity the most, right now, is physician-assisted suicide.
What Is Human Dignity?
As Pope Saint John Paul II points out in Evangelium Vitae, we all possess human dignity. This is because human life comes from the direct “creative action of God.” That means that who we are and what we are worth has nothing to do with anything we do. It is solely based on the act of our creation and on the identity of our Creator.
Many Church teachings stem from this belief in human dignity. If human life is created by God, it is sacred. The legalization and prevalence of physician-assisted suicide denies this truth.
Physician-Assisted Suicide: Why Does It Matter?
In all situations, it is important that we protect human dignity; our every action should respect and reflect the goodness that God has placed within each and every one of us. Assisted suicide directly opposes this by saying that, after a certain point, a life becomes expendable.
According to Not Dead Yet, several of the most common reasons in the state of Oregon that a lethal prescription was given are “loss of autonomy,” being “less able to engage in activities,” and “loss of control of bodily functions.” All of these are incredible difficulties to endure, but they in no way erode human dignity. Human worth is not rooted in successes or abilities; it is rooted in Christ. Rather than accepting death as a solution to great suffering, we should seek ways to show the value in every stage of life. Even those plagued by the greatest suffering possess the greatest degree of dignity. Read more on the Catholic Church’s view on assisted suicide here.
Beyond its implications regarding the value of the person, physician-assisted suicide can have catastrophic consequences because of problems that stem from many gaps in the legislation on the issue. These can become easily exploited and lead to someone dying even when it is not their desire. Read more about the many problems with physician assisted suicide here and here.
Does This Matter to Teenagers?
The short answer is yes. Sometime, as teens, it can be difficult to look at the case of physician-assisted suicide and see why it is important to take a stance. End-of-life decisions seem impossibly far away and removed from our everyday life. Despite this, it remains our responsibility to promote a culture of life that supports even the most vulnerable. When it comes to physician-assisted suicide, we must take a stance because it is not just a threat to those near death; it is a direct attack on human dignity itself. That is something that matters to people of all ages, ourselves included.
Taking a stance against assisted suicide does not mean you have to engage in complicated arguments (although, when necessary, be prepared to defend your views). It means treating everyone, every day with the the incredible respect that they deserve as people created by Love and for love. You must defend the dignity by respecting every person that you encounter. That especially includes those who are suffering.
Therefore, it becomes our job to wholeheartedly fight against the idea that life ever becomes meaningless. It is our job to speak out when we see others being disrespected. Physician-assisted suicide is only one way in which the human person is dishonored. Next time you see someone poking jokes at people who are disabled, elderly, or anyone in any way a bit different, remember to defend their human dignity. We all have equal value in the eyes of God. Defending that fundamental truth is what begins to heal a society plagued by easy solutions to difficult problems.