A new study released by a UK-based think tank has found that offering assisted dying to the terminally ill does not equate to a dignified death. The “Theos” group found that the best answer to those who are suffering with life-ending illnesses is in offering better end-of-life care.
Theos director Elizabeth Oldfield said that Christians should be actively involved in the improvement of the care given to those coming to the end of their lives or battling a terminal illness.
“You could give to or volunteer at your local hospice,” she told Premier UK.
“They’re very often wonderful places where people’s dignity is protected and if you will invest those and churches get involved in those we’ll see even higher levels of end of life palliative care there.”
Elizabeth added: “True dignity in death would come from investing the necessary time, money and resources into high-quality end of life care.”
The new report was based on a range of interviews with various medical professionals as well as hospital and hospice chaplains. However, Reverend Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, disagrees with the Theos report and has urged the UK government to relax assisted dying laws.
“The law we have right now has not kept pace with changes in the last 50 or 60 years,” he said.
But what about the whole issue of us controlling when we die? Shouldn’t this be left up to God’s will and timing for our lives?
“Life is a gift to us and if the time comes when I were to feel that I must give the gift back to Him, in extreme circumstances, I don’t think He would want to take that away from me,” the Bishop responded.
In the United States, there are currently assisted dying laws in Oregon, Montana, Washington, Vermont, California, Colorado and Washington D.C. The law is restricted to terminally ill and mentally competent adults. Oregon was the first state in the US to legalize assisted suicide, which was achieved through popular vote.
Oregon voters first approved the Death with Dignity Act (DWDA) by a general election vote in November 1994 by a margin of 51% to 49%.
Elsewhere in Europe, assisted-dying laws are becoming increasingly relaxed. Faithwire recently reported on the case of a 29-year-old woman with mental health problems who was legally allowed to be put to death.
Aurelia Brouwers suffered from borderline personality disorder from a young age and often heard voices in her head. She would experience episodes of psychosis and severe depression. After a long battle for the right to die, she was granted permission at the turn of the new year. “I think that after such a rotten life I am entitled to a dignified death – people who have a serious illness get a chance for a worthy ending, so why is it so difficult for people who are psychologically [ill]?” she said.