Friday 1 June 2012
Post 3: Assisted suicide, Abortion and Contraception
The interesting and useful blog, Christian Medical Comment, by Dr Peter Saunders, informs us that the euthanasia advocates are about to make another attempt to have assisted suicide made legal. Problems which we must all note, Catholic or not, are manifold. Euthanasia or assisted suicide do not easily appear as ways of caring for the dying but rather of refusing that care by ending the person instead of the person’s suffering. Two things need to be said here. First, we have today sufficiently powerful drugs to combat anxiety, pain and agitation in the seriously ill; some folk seem to simply exclude this, advocating killing instead. Second, the argument that to end a person’s suffering we can end the person’s life. Such an argument holds a very dangerous trajectory: it would allow us to end the suffering of poverty by killing the poor. We are seeing an ever increasing assault on human life in today’s world; an ever-increasing avoidance of the Cross in human life, and indeed, of the compassion those crosses call forth from us.
Abortion remains a central attack on the dignity of human life, and despite what many seem to believe, is always the ending of a unique human life. With its own DNA from fertilisation, and its own heartbeat from around 20 days after conception, the human embryo is an individual. Even the placenta has as one of its functions the filtering of impurities from the mother’s blood so as to safeguard the foetus (this is an interesting aspect of the physiology of pregnancy, for the body recognises the mother has the potential to be an unjust aggressor upon the child). The argument from ‘personhood’ is spurious in that we are all developing as persons, and the point at which we become fully who we are -or are called to be- is perhaps never attained in this life.
Contraception can be seen as the first and foundational attack upon life since it is a refusal to cooperate with life; a refusal to engage in the procreation of the species -and perhaps, therefore, an offence against humanity. Same gender sexual activity may hold the same difficulty: engaging in use of that faculty for procreation in non-procreative ways. What a sad, anti-life world we are becoming...and at a rapid pace.