Saturday, 7 February 2015

The Right to Have Life, Liberty and Security of the Person (And the Right Not To)

The unanimous decision by Canada's Supreme Court to rescind the law against doctor assisted suicide is an interesting one. And I find it interesting on a number of levels. First of all, to be completely technical, "doctor assisted suicide" is not really what it is anyway. What it is, is getting and allowing a doctor to kill you. Whatever the mechanism, a doctor who participates in the procedure is really complicit in your death. Now, whether you think that right or wrong is not my point here. But that's just what it is.

It's also interesting that they referenced our constitutional right to life, liberty and security of the person, when their decision allows for the exact opposite - the actual removal of life, liberty and security. Somehow, Alice and the rabbit hole come to mind here.

The decision was unanimous; 9 to 0. I haven't researched, but I wonder if any of the judges of this court were involved in the exact opposite decision when they last ruled on it. If so, do they think that they, or the judges on that court, were in error then. or just that times have changed. If the latter, it raises an interesting point about the definition of right and wrong; are they absolute or do they depend on societal standards or prevailing public opinion. What if slavery become a popular concept again?

And if the latter, what happens when public opinion comes to the point where euthanasia, of the elderly, disabled or handicapped children ever become acceptable or felt necessary in the eyes of the majority. Already, in European countries where assisted suicide has been legal for some time, it has come to the point where a sizeable percentage of deaths in this connection have occurred without the express permission of the patient.

I must admit, frankly, that I am rather neutral in this whole matter. I'm not going to try to judge another person who is in such agony that they want to end their life. And we don't live in a theocracy, where the values of Christianity or any other religion can (or should) be imposed, if the majority don't want them. Mind you, this decision was, "imposed," if you like, by nine unelected judges, but I suspect that a majority of Canadians actually might agree with them, in the narrow sense of "assisted suicide," perhaps not considering the, "slippery slope" scenario which, I predict right now, will almost certainly occur over time. The one thing I hope will be included in any eventual law is an effective, "conscience" provision for doctors who, on personal moral grounds, don't wish to be a part of taking a life.

No, we live in a democracy, where laws are generally made by those who represent the majority, and whether we agree with them or not, we often must abide by them, or at least accept them. Mind you, if anyone feels strongly enough about the wrongness of a particular law, he is free to fight and argue against it, but generally speaking, gay marriage, for instance, whether we agree with it or not, is law, and we must accept it. (Having said that, gay marriage is another issue where I am fairly neutral, as far as the world, as opposed to the Church, is concerned,)

I often think of Revelation 22:11 in these matters.
 Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy. (Rev 22:11)
This world will continue until Christ returns. We will not always agree with every opinion this world holds. There will be injustice, even if it looks to be acceptable in the majority of the world's eyes. In the meantime, Christians are called to be salt and light, each in his particular corner of the world or sphere of influence. We cannot change the world - we can only assist in the work of God and His Holy Spirit in changing individual hearts. Then, enough of those individual hearts can change the world.

Take Care

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