Tag Archives: euthanasia

Suicide by Doc: 3 Doctors on Trial for Euthanizing an Autistic Woman

Some of you may know that in the Netherlands and in Belgium, euthanasia (the supposed mercy killing or “good death”) is legal and more than that, it is legal for what seems like almost any reason.  It’s kind of like California’s medical marijuana laws; if you can find even a hint of plausible reason to be prescribed weed, it will be prescribed.  This is nearly the case for those who seek doctor-assisted suicide in Belgium and the Netherlands.  Surprisingly, and yet not surprisingly, a doctor is now being prosecuted for a bad “good death.”  In fact, three doctors are being prosecuted for the crime.  It’s surprising because, as much as Belgium law-makers would like to pretend otherwise, their laws are pretty lax concerning such matters.  It’s not surprising, because it was only a matter of time before someone’s family members would not be okay with a doctor taking their loved one away from them.

Such is the case with the Nys family.  Tina Nys was a 38 year old woman, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, which is a mild form of autism.  In 2010 she decided she did not want to live in such a condition any longer, so she saw her psychiatrist and went through the process involved with euthanasia.  This is only possible because Belgium allows for the euthanizing of those who have mental illnesses and those diagnosed with unbearable or untreatable illnesses.  Such a slippery slope, don’t you think? And now, it appears three doctors have slipped too far. What seemed to have been inevitable has, in fact, happened. After all, when a country allows for the killing of the mentally ill and allows for the euthanizing of those with an unbearable/untreatable illness, it opens up many doors of subjectivism.  

The Nys family claims there were many irregularities within the procedure, such as the doctor performing the action asked Tina’s sister to hold the needle in place while he administered the drug. He also asked the members of Tina’s family to use a stethoscope to check to confirm the heart had stopped.  These allegations led to the investigation which led to the doctors facing charges and a trial for poisoning Tina Nys.  

Can I just state the obvious? Euthanasia is simply bad.  We can dress it up and call it names, but no matter what euphemism is given, it is still wrong and it is still evil.  As the saying goes, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.  The very ones who are to “do no harm” are the ones doing the greatest of harms: killing their own patients.  I know this is the minority, but one is too many.  This quote from the Associated Press article is an understatement:

“I think this (trial) has symbolic importance in the sense that it sends doctors a message…that you could be accused of a very serious crime and prosecuted if you don’t comply with the legal requirements for euthanasia,” said Penney Lewis, a law professor at King’s College London. “The prospect of criminal investigation may act as a mechanism to make doctors more careful.”


Let’s hope this goes beyond making doctors more careful, let’s hope this trial makes doctors simply refuse to do euthanasia at all! At this point I don’t care if doctors have a conviction against physician-assisted suicide or are simply afraid of being prosecuted for doing them, as long as they stop.  I cannot for the life of me understand how these doctors could ever be okay with purposefully ending the life of a person as if they were some sort of race horse with a broken leg.  I cannot understand how a police officer often needs to go through months or years of therapy when a person commits suicide by cop, but a doctor doesn’t bat an eye with suicide by physician.

We are more than animals! I know we are speaking about secular Europe here. I know they seek to escape any confines of religion, especially Christianity, but there used to be a conviction–a deep down belief in the goodness of living. There used to be the idea that easing pain was a good thing, but there was a line that was never to be crossed.  Biblically speaking, these physicians (and all who are like them) will not have to worry only about the trial they are facing in the Court of Assize in Ghent, but they will one day face the Great White Thone judgment of the God who gave his image to Tina Nys and the thousands like her.

Suffering Christian, understand this: as great as your suffering is, God’s grace, mercy, and glory to come are far greater.  That is not to make light of your situation and your hurting (whether it be physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional). That which causes suffering in your life is real; and to say that God’s glory to come is greater does not diminish it. It simply is to open our eyes to how great God’s grace, mercy, and glory really are. If your pain and your suffering are so great that you wish you were dead, know that God’s glory will make you rejoice with even more intensity than your intense wishes for the suffering to be over.  “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us,” (Romans 8:18, ESV).  May God grant you grace to see the truth of this Word.

Roger Foley and the Culture of Death

Last Saturday I re-watched The Avengers: Infinity War.  This time my wife got to see it.  If you’ve seen it, the main bad guy in this movie has the name Thanos.  Thanos is seeking to gain the six infinity stones that will give him the power to eliminate half the universe’s population in the snap of his fingers.  What a lot of people don’t know is that his name comes from the Greek “thanatos,” meaning death.  William Cullen Bryant wrote a poem titled “Thanatopsis,” which explained means the consideration of death.  The word euthanasia comes from “eu,” Greek for good and “thanatos.”  Hence it is supposedly a “good death,” or as Thanos would say, a mercy.

This leads us to Roger Foley.  Foley is a 42 year old Canadian man who is chronically ill and is in need of constant attention.  He claims that after multiple attempts to get him to accept help dying, he recorded a couple of these sessions in which he was encouraged to received assistance with ending his life.  In one instance, he asked to receive home health care, but instead was once again told about the option of receiving assisted suicide.

While I could make an argument about government-run health-care and how eventually they turn into bureaucracies that have to make financial decisions which could eventually lead to this kind of encouragement to die and eventually to an obligation to die, I won’t.  Instead, I believe that we live in a culture where death has become normalized.  With abortion and now end-of-life “solutions,” the world has become “thanaekkaio:” obsessed with death.  It is prevalent in our video games, our movies, our books, our healthcare, our thoughts.

As Christians we are not to be obsessed with death and dying, but with life and living, even in the midst of dying.  Why? Because Christ is life.

If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on things that are on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden in Christ in God.  When Christ  who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory, (Colossians 3:1-4, ESV; italics mine).

Look at those verses! Our minds are not to be set on things in this world, whether we are referring to televisions and iPhones or diseases and death.  That doesn’t mean we can’t seek treatment when sick.  To set the mind on something is to put focus upon it and to put our energy into it.  Paul wrote that we’ve already died, but have been raised with Christ, our lives hidden in Christ in God.  In other words, we don’t need to obsess with death since all death is now is a move from this world into the next.  All the things that would make us anxious have already been dealt with.  No judgment, no torment, no wrath.  Hence the writer of Hebrews wrote that Jesus, “likewise partook of the same things [flesh and blood], that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver all those through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery,” (Hebrews 2:14-15, ESV).  I know, most people seem to be more afraid of how they will die rather than death itself, and I’ll deal with that, but we should see the lack of obsession.  If there is any obsession with death, it really ought to simply be an obsession with seeing Christ face to face.  That’s why Paul wrote to the Philippians,

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.  Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.  I am hard pressed between the two.  My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better,” (1:21-23, ESV; italics mine).

Notice that once again, that Paul brings up that living is Christ.  Our lives are in Christ, we are “partakers of the divine nature,” as Peter would say (2 Peter 1:4).  Who we are is defined in who Christ is.  But Paul wanted not just to be in Christ but with Christ.  Yet, his desire to be with Christ did not affect his decision to live on earth.  He would still be willing to go through all that he must if it is what Christ would have him do.  He gave up his desires and wants for what Christ wants because he was in Christ.  That would of course mean

far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches, (2 Corinthians 11:23-28, ESV)

And, of course, that doesn’t include his last imprisonment and his beheading.  No one wants to suffer, whether at the hands of some other person or at the hands of some disease.  Yet, we are not to fret and obsess with death (or how we die) like our culture is pushing upon us.  We must push back.  As J. I. Packer wrote, “The Christian’s most loving service to his neighbor in our modern world. . .is to uphold the authority of God’s law as man’s one true guide to true life,” (Knowing and Doing the Will of God, originally in Growing in Christ, 232-233).  That means that we must speak God’s truth, His law about life and death, in this fallen world.  But in addition to that, we must live it and love it ourselves.