Who has the "right to die"?

by Del Duduit 

We have stepped on the slippery slope.

The Democrat-led state senate in Maine voted to legalize assisted suicide in June and the governor signed it into law.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills put her signature on the bill, which now permits doctors to prescribe a fatal dose of medication to "terminally ill" patients.

Seven other states have similar laws on the books labeled as “right to die” legislation. And this fatal ideology is spreading. Earlier this month, it was revealed that the Ohio Nurses Association had voted to officially support physical assisted suicide. Deborah Arms, president of the ONA, said the recent pro-assisted suicide recommendations are “an extension of what nurses are ethically obligated to do which is to protect and advocate for the rights, needs and wants of their patients.”

I see nowhere in the United States Constitution where we as individuals have the right to be killed. I am aware of the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” but not the right to die at the hands of those who have dedicated their lives to preserve life.

The pro-death movement has been successful in playing on emotions and disguising its agenda as a way to provide “death with dignity.” This concept, although thinly veiled with language suggesting compassion and kindness, is anything but. Physician assisted suicide is one and one thing only: the legalized ending of vulnerable human lives. A terminal diagnosis doesn’t suddenly render a person’s life unworthy of living.

Maine’s legislation defines terminal illness as an “incurable and irreversible disease that has been medically confirmed and will, within reasonable medical judgment, produce death within six months.”

If assisted suicide is allowed, there will be an onslaught from the grim reapers who want to end the life of a people, struggling with terminal illnesses or other challenging situations, who they deem unworthy to live. Human life will be cheapened. Life, and natural death, will lose their value, their sacredness. Countless individuals will be fed the lie that they are better off dead.

I have been involved in the pro-life movement for decades. While still a key plank of the pro-life ethic, the issue of assisted suicide and euthanasia doesn’t always get the ink that unborn babies get. And that’s okay. While being inexplicably linked, both topics deserve a thoughtful, compassionate treatment that affirms the intrinsic value of all life while acknowledging the complexities of life in an imperfect world. After all, when we talk about euthanasia or assisted suicide, we are dealing with a person’s documented life on earth. It’s an incredibly sensitive issue.

I’ve been there. I sat at my father’s bedside and watched him die from lung cancer. Several years later, I found my mother near death in her bathroom from a brain aneurysm – she died

that night in Hospice care. When I found her in the afternoon, she had been lying on the floor unconscious for hours. I did not simply pour a cup of coffee and wait for her to expire. I reacted and called a squad and tried to revive her. That’s what we are supposed to do. We don’t push them aside and assume they are of no value.

And four years ago, I stood at the foot of a hospital bed and watched my sister-in-law pass away from a long bout with cancer. In all three cases, there was medication available to ease their pain and suffering. Death eventually came -- but it wasn’t invited or caused by a doctor.

One accusation against those of us who oppose assisted suicide is that pro-lifers want the person to suffer and do not want someone to be allowed to “die with dignity.”

The way a person dies has nothing to do with his or her dignity. When my father was dying in a hospital bed, he lost a little control of his bodily functions. That was not losing his dignity. His impairments did not erase the 30 years of memories I had of him. Dignity is earned over a lifetime.

Had we chosen to have a doctor come in and “help” my father pass, as Maine and now, the Ohio Nurses Association have suggested, we would have missed a beautiful death. That might sound odd, so let me explain.

A few days before my father died, he was awake in bed and talking and laughing. I thought he was making a rebound and might come home. The next day, he slipped into a coma.

My three brothers and I, along with our wives, all gathered in his room with my mother. The death watch was on. I remember when our pastor came to visit. We all gathered around Dad’s bed and softly sang some of his favorite hymns. Then miraculously, Dad opened his eyes for the first time in a couple of days, turned his head toward Mom, who was sitting there holding his hand, and with a single tear trickling down his face, he smiled and took his last breath.

It was a beautiful death.

Assisted suicide would have robbed all of us of that precious memory. My dad taught me how to die with dignity then and there.

I watched my sister-in-law battle ovarian cancer three times before meeting the Lord four years ago. Her life and her death left a legacy. She stubbornly battled cancer and demonstrated an unyielding and courageous faith that taught everyone a lesson. Though she is gone, the “DDFaith” movement remains alive and strong in Southern Ohio.

If she or her family had chosen to have a doctor end her life when she was first diagnosed, thousands of lives would not have been touched or changed. She lived and died with dignity.

A dying person has a lot to think about and worrying if their life is going to be extinguished by a doctor should be the last thing on their mind. And that’s what assisted suicide is – it’s asking a doctor to commit a capital offense, and sadly there have been some physicians who have done just that – all in the name of “compassion.”

Our society today is selfish and places little to no value on human life. If the unborn child is an inconvenience – then society encourages abortion. If people don’t want to take care of Mom or Dad in a nursing home – society wants to help them slip off and not be a bother anymore. But

we as a nation cannot allow doctors to play God and take people’s lives just because patients are sick.

The Hippocratic Oath instructs a doctor to keep their patients from all harm. Likewise, the original text forbids a physician from administering poison and bars them from taking part in euthanasia and/or assisted suicide.

Although the oath has been revised a few times since then, the overall message remains the same. A doctor is supposed to help a person heal – not help them die. Death is the ultimate form of harm.

Instead of writing off my mom and dad when it would have been easy, my family and I did what was best for them. Dad’s death took a few weeks to come to pass while Mom’s only took hours. That is what we are supposed to do. My parents took care of me when I could not. What else could I do but extend that same self-sacrificing care to them?

It’s called love. It’s called life. It’s called death. Taking care of people, regardless of what hardship they are experiencing, is what we are called to do. That, my friend, is compassion.


And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32 KJV)

Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. He has previously served on the board of Ohio Right to Life. Del and Angie attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.

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