In our functionalist society we often define people and their human dignity according to their rational and relational assets and activity (i.e. autonomy or self-rule and ability to choose, crucial in a consumerist society). When these ‘assets’ diminish, we think the person’s dignity diminishes in value. As former PM Bob Hawke said, he’d rather be put out of his misery before he ‘loses his marbles’. Misery equates with losing cognitive capacity. However, his late wife Hazel displayed dignity despite diminishing capacity due to Alzheimer’s.
My interest in this is partly because of my father’s dementia, deteriorating Parkinson’s disease and a major stroke. He is now in a nursing home in Sydney. At the other end of life, we have watched our first grandchild develop, on the pregnancy app and ultrasounds. It was truly a womb with a view. What is the view we have of God at the very beginning, or better what is a God’s-eye view of us? Genesis, Exodus and the Psalms give us a scriptural lens for God’s never-ending knowing of us, across ‘the hopes and fears of all the years’.
Norm Currie from Harmony in Diversity hosted Gordon Preece to discuss the new Centre for Research in Religion and Social Policy and the recent public conversation about euthanasia and end of life choices.
In August the Victorian Labour government proposes to introduce legislation enabling Voluntary Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in Victoria. This is a very significant issue deserving considered public discussion, the kind of opportunity that RASP (www.centrerasp.org) exists to promote.
On 29 June RASP hosted a public conversation between world-renowned bioethicists Professor Peter Singer (Princeton University and the University of Melbourne) & Professor Margaret Somerville (University of Notre Dame, Sydney and formerly McGill University, Montreal).
This article articulates some of the main arguments both for and against euthanasia under the circumstances being envisaged by the Victorian Parliament’s Legal and Social Issues Committee. More particularly, its concern is to attend to some of the theological issues germane to the subject. To this end, it identifies and discusses six arguments for and six arguments against legalizing voluntary euthanasia. It concludes with an appeal to the economy of the divine life as the most responsible lens through which the Christian community thinks about and engages with this issue.