The Misnomer of the Death With Dignity Argument

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dignity: the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 5 Nov. 2014.

On Saturday, November 1, Brittany Maynard, assisted by her doctor, decided to end her own life to avoid the certain pain and suffering she would face as the result of terminal brain cancer. Shortly before her death, she made the following statement: “Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more." You can read her entire statement in an article in Time magazine here.

Let me start off by saying that my heart went out to this woman when I first heard her story. I have witnessed first-hand the ravages of what brain cancer can do. I can't even begin to imagine how I would react in her shoes if I were to receive such a terrible diagnosis. I have also stood in an ICU unit on several occasions late at night beside a grieving family as they watched their loved one pass away. I have also watched several decide to fight their diagnosis as long as they had breath. What I am about to share is not a condemnation on Brittany Maynard, but a condemnation on an increasing deception that is gripping our culture that I believe robbed her and her family of moments and memories they will never have in the quest for "dignity." The very essence of the word as defined above runs counter to the death with dignity argument. I will attempt to explain why there can be no dignity in taking your own life.

First, it devalues life and at its core says that someone with an incurable diagnosis can't live out their remaining time with dignity. I have witnessed the opposite from those who chose to hang in there, fight the disease, and take take full advantage of the time they had left. To me, dignity comes when we stand up and fight, not lay down and die.

Second, it is self-centered. What about the dignity of those left behind? Brittany Maynard's family has been robbed of precious moments they could have had in the days ahead that they will never get back. They were robbed of the chance to stand next to her and support her in the fight to overcome the odds, which by the way, happens more often than you can imagine. The death with dignity argument says that I am the only one that matters and that is a sad epitaph to a life.

Third, it is humans putting a period where God can put a comma. Brittany and her family ruled out any possibility of a miracle. Sure it would have been difficult, painful and hard to say the least. But I can think of no greater dignity than hoping for the best. Sadly, too many today settle for the path of least pain. Our culture is obsessed with happiness and pleasure to the point that when the going gets tough, we quit. At the core, death with dignity is playing God and we just mess things up when we do that.

Finally, it reduces human life to that of an animal. It smacks of putting down the family dog when we can't afford the vet bills. I have held a beloved family pet as she was euthanized and I can tell you that was the most undignified thing I have ever witnessed. It is shameful that we have devalued human life to the point that we would even consider doing to a loved one what we do to a dog or cat. I guess I shouldn't be surprised since over one million babies are aborted in the U.S. every year. It won't be long before it will be legal to euthanize a human being without their consent.

You may not agree with everything I have written and that's okay. I just felt I had to get this off my chest because I am deeply disturbed by where our culture is headed and even more disturbed by how Satan has deceived us. I grieve for Brittany Maynard and her family, not so much because of her death, but because this human life that God loved so much was treated in such an undignified manner.
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