Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Right to Die

First off, let me give a shout out to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.  In a press release claiming chaos at the Republican National Convention, the DPW cited the My Two Cents blog and my piece this week on the confusion that delegates and attendees must feel with Donald Trump winning the nomination.  Glad to know everyone is Madison is keeping an eye on what I have to say.  Now on to today's regularly scheduled topic.

Some of you are disturbed by the story this week about an Appleton girl who has made the decision to die.  The 16-year old suffers from a debilitating muscle and spinal condition that leaves her wheelchair-bound and in a great deal of pain.  Because of that, she has decided to forego the use of a ventilator to provide her with enough oxygen to live.  The comment sections of on-line versions of the story include suggestions that she and her family instead "pray for a miracle", "let God decide when it is her time" and to "wait to see if there is a cure someday".

For a society with a "death culture" that spends billions of dollars a year on funerals, elaborate grave markers, maintaining cemeteries and building memorials to people who have died, we sure have a problem with people who try to control their own deaths.  The idea of not being able to choose the time, place and manner of your passing is largely a religious construct.  After creating the idea of "Heaven"--where everything is perfect for eternity--early church leaders realized that people living a difficult, subsistence lifestyle under the punishing control of the Church itself might want to punch their ticket early and enjoy "their eternal reward".  So they tossed in a provision that those who take their own lives wouldn't get into Heaven. 

Those who think that this girl is too young to decide that she doesn't want to live anymore--or who think that she should instead continue to endure great pain and less and less of a life outside of her bed because of some "devine will" are incredibly misguided.  We live our lives for ourselves--not for religious beliefs and not for "those we leave behind".  This girl's decision to control her own fate is certainly more acceptable than getting hit by a drunk driver or getting run over or blown up by someone whose religion tells him that taking a few hundred people with him just increases his reward in the afterlife.

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