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PRO-LIFE BASICS: Do people who are suffering or disabled have a right to die?

The global euthanasia movement contends that “self-determination” is a “right.” In other words, they say individuals have the right to have themselves killed.

In the United States, current proposals to legalize doctorassisted suicide are limited to the terminally ill who ask for it. But if, as argued, individuals possess a “right” to have themselves killed, why must they be suffering, terminally ill or even sick to assert it? And if, as is contended also, people have a claim on the mercy of others to relieve their suffering, why do such people have to ask for lethal injection? In reality, the truth is that the “right to die” is really about the “right to kill.”

Many pro-death advocates might reply that this type of killing is ultimately compassionate and effective health care. Indeed, Adolf Hitler reached the same conclusion in his discussion of eugenic sterilization:“The demand that defective people be prevented from propagating equally defective offspring is a demand of clearest reason and, if systematically executed, represents the most humane act of mankind. It will spare millions of unfortunates undeserved sufferings, and consequently will lead to a rising improvement of health as a whole.”

The bottom line: the “unfit,” those who lack a so-called “quality of life,” should not exist.

No matter what the excuse or how it is packaged, to intend the death of an innocent person is an act of murder and a heinous crime. If we are to safeguard society, all of us must remember that everyone’s most basic right—the right to life—is in jeopardy when law and collective morality no longer regard persons as equally worthy of life, solely on the basis of our common humanity. Indeed, it is both morally correct and in our own best interests to protect and cherish weak and vulnerable members of our human family, because someday you or I may be one of them.

In the United States, as the recent murder of Terri Schiavo showed, euthanasia is no longer a distant and disturbing idea espoused and promulgated by the deranged few. It is a chilling, international reality. That is why all of us, now more than ever, must vigorously oppose its legalization. We also must pray for the wisdom and compassion to properly comfort, care for and dissuade those considering suicide.

Let us remember that as we seek to change hearts, real compassion starts with Christ.

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About the author

Judie Brown

Judie Brown is president of American Life League and served 15 years as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.