More Orr

In my post on Monday last week I featured Mark Hubbard’s letter to the editor of The Press re Ken Orr of Right to Life re voluntary euthanasia. This was Ken Orr’s reply.

In reply to Mark Hubbard, we don’t own our lives – they are a gift from God. We are the custodians of that gift. The foundation stone of a civilised society is the social contract that we have that requires us to respect and protect the lives of every member of the community from conception to natural death. Our laws should uphold that social contract. The taking of a life is a grave injustice. There is no human right recognised by any United Nations Convention that would permit doctors to kill their patients or assist their suicide. Parliament would be in dereliction of its duty to society by violating this social contract and legislating to allow for euthanasia. Advocates of euthanasia are asking the rest of society to accept the collective guilt for taking of life. Euthanasia would result, as in Holland, in many others being deprived of their lives without their consent.

Let’s take a closer look.

we don’t own our lives – they are a gift from God. We are the custodians of that gift.

I already fielded this one. Your custodianship of your life means that voluntary euthanasia is acceptable under some circumstances, viz., those circumstances under which it is desirable.

You don’t own your life. God does. Your life is God’s property and He’s entrusted it to you. You are His servant. … God gave me – not you, not anyone else, and most certainly not the state – custodianship of my life. So it is up to me what I do with it.

And here’s what Ken Orr has to say on his website.

Euthanasia is allowing doctors to kill their patients or to assist in their suicide. This is not a religious issue, as some might suggest

So why mention that our lives are a gift from God in the first place?

The foundation stone of a civilised society is the social contract that we have that requires us to respect and protect the lives of every member of the community from conception to natural death. Our laws should uphold that social contract.

Assume, for the sake of argument, that the foundation stone of a civilised society is the social contract, and assume that this social contract is worth more than the paper it isn’t written on. What’s in the contract? Not a requirement to respect and protect the lives of every member of the community, but a requirement to respect and protect the right to life of every member of the community. There’s a world of difference between a right to a thing, and the thing itself.

Advocates of euthanasia are asking the rest of society to accept the collective guilt for taking of life.

I can’t see how Orr came to this conclusion. Collective guilt? What about individual freedom and personal responsibility?!

On his Right To Life website Ken Orr quotes from a press release on euthanasia from the Inter Church Bioethics Council.

Ethically, there is a significant difference between actively/assisting in killing another person and withdrawing (or with-holding) treatment so that the person dies as a result of their illness.

In both situations the intent of the action is critical. In forms of euthanasia, the intent is to relieve suffering by killing. By contrast, when treatment is futile and is stopped or withheld, palliative care given by skilled professionals who address the pain and suffering caused by terminal illness, provides the best means to respond compassionately to terminal illness and suffering. The intention here is to address the many needs of the suffering person and their family, and to enable a dignified pain-free death. Another ethical consideration is that health care professionals are trained and trusted to promote health and well being and provide appropriate treatment for the living and dying. They are trusted not to cause death.

and also says

At the outset, we should define what is euthanasia. Euthanasia is allowing doctors to kill their patients or to assist in their suicide. … Euthanasia is not the withholding or withdrawing of treatment from a patient who is in a terminal condition when that treatment would be futile or burdensome. It is also not euthanasia for a doctor to administer medication for the purpose of pain relief to a patient when it may also have the effect of shortening the patient’s life; this constitutes good palliative care. The objective is to relieve pain and suffering, not shorten the life of the patient.

Dying and in pain and wishing you were gone? Ask your doctor “to enable a dignified pain-free death.” Insist on “good palliative care”!

Euthanasia by stealth.

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2 Responses to More Orr

  1. Mark Hubbard says:

    I don’t know if I’m on all fours with your analysis, Richard; though I like the line you take.

    For the record, though I think you linked it somewhere else, I gave my response here: http://www.solopassion.com/node/8997

    With that I’m off for six weeks, with limited Net time (by choic). Only God – apparently – knows where I’m holidaying 😉 but if you’re in the Marlborough Sounds drop me an email. Oh, did you see this one … another victimless crime … http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10795891 with the State trying to destroy yet another life (and I’m not talking euthanasia).

  2. Richard says:

    Mark, do you mean my “euthanasia by stealth” analysis? If so, I’m not wrong. It’s the Catholic doctrine of double effect (originally due to Thomas Aquinas, 13th c. philosopher and Catholic saint). Ken Orr deserves a Papal Medal!

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