Anglicans for Life addresses the sanctity of life at both ends of the life spectrum. We work to equip the church–the Anglican Communion–to help people dealing with life and death issues that arise throughout a person’s life. So in addition to providing education and ministry about abortion we also teach, and preach about aging and dying.
In 2013, my mother had a massive stroke and was put into “Comfort Care”; the doctors said she would never recover or become conscious again. As they made their case for us to accept this diagnosis and level of medical care they were proposing, they kept reinforcing how hard it was to care for someone in her condition. They insisted we weren’t prepared to change diapers or feeding-tubes or turn our home into a nursing facility for Mom.
As my sister and I sat and discussed the doctors’ comments–I had an “A-Ha!” moment. The reasons the doctors used to justify withdrawing food and fluids (in essence giving up hope of her getting better) were designed to undermine our fight for her life and the on-going medical care we were seeking. It was all about how we couldn’t do it.
This line of reasoning resonated with me because it was similar to the logic used to justify abortion.
As a 16 year-old, I wasn’t prepared to change diapers and care for a baby. Everyone said an abortion was a simpler, better, wiser choice. Now here I was as a 52 year-old being encouraged to prematurely end my mother’s life—basically aborting her because my siblings and I weren’t capable enough to handle it.
Even some of the nurses told us such things that inferred Mom wouldn’t want to be a burden to her family, that her quality of life would be non-existent.
This experience helped me understand that some people in the medical community saw certain members of society as more expendable than others. It led to Anglicans for Life developing an 8-week educational program called Embrace the Journey that addresses aging and dying. Preparing the elderly, their adult children and other loved ones to survive the growing support for assisted suicide and euthanasia is important.
We recognize that everyone will die someday. It is critical to understand how advances in medical technology, health care rationing, and a fear of suffering merge into either artificially keeping people alive at all costs or hastening their death instead of letting life end naturally—in God’s time.
We also recognize that no one wants to talk about or even acknowledge that our loved ones or ourselves are aging, and we will die. Everyone is afraid of offending one another or saying the wrong thing—so these difficult, life and death issues never get addressed until the family is in crisis mode. So Embrace the Journey is designed to encourage families to discuss and talk about the things like hospice care, funeral plans or what your wishes are as you or your loved one nears death.
Embrace the Journey also addresses an issue called Advance Care Planning. Different than an Advance Directive, Advance Care Planning introduces many new terms regarding types of care elderly people may need; unfortunately, they don’t always fully comprehend the implications of the various types of care discussed during those conversations. In other words, they (your elderly parent or friend) can agree to something unintentionally that will be hard to cancel or prevent in the future.
Finally Embrace the Journey discusses the inherent problems associated with assisted suicide. Did you know:
- Assisted Suicide undermines medical efforts to maintain and improve pain management and care for patients near the end of life, as well as the ability for patients to fully trust their doctors. No doctor can predict a person’s life expectancy with 100% accuracy, and many patients outlive their “6 months or less” diagnosis.
- Assisted Suicide takes the Freedom to Die and turns it into a Duty to Die – as the choice to refuse healthcare treatments is taken away when insurance companies deny payment for life-saving treatment but will pay for life-ending drugs. And rising health care costs or a fear of being a burden to others can pressure people to request lethal drugs.
- Assisted Suicide also Glorifies Death – Media coverage of assisted suicide can glamorize suicide which leads to “imitative suicidal behaviors”, especially among young or depressed people. In 2015, Oregon’s health department reported that the rate of suicide among Oregonians has been increasing since 2000, 3 years after it legalized assisted suicide, and as of 2012 it was 42% higher than the national average.
- Finally Assisted Suicide Increases Risk of Abuse because once lethal drugs have been prescribed, there is no supervision to assure the drugs are voluntarily taken by the patient and not ingested by someone else. Also, Elder Abuse is a major concern in America, and there is no protection to ensure the patient requesting assisted suicide is not being coerced or forced to request death, especially by an heir.
There is a need to educate people about the impact assisted suicide will have in the future. (Keep in mind that someday our lives will be the ones our children will be encouraged to abort. Plus, the abortion mentality has manifested itself in a blatant disregard/disrespect for the value of life, at any stage when that life becomes inconvenient.
Organizations like Anglicans for Life exist to be a voice, a witness, to the sacredness of life created in God’s image. Seek out resources like Embrace the Journey to learn more about life and death issues and help us to educate others.
If we don’t stem the growing acceptance of assisted suicide, we’ll be developing programs in the future that are similar to the abortion after-care programs—but ones designed to help families deal with the regret and grief associated with their loved ones being aborted via assisted suicide.