Saturday, October 25, 2008

Over Euthanasia

Andy Ho published an article on The Staits Times (dated 23 Oct 2008) titled "Look into better care of the dying" as a response to the recent discussion on euthanasia in Singapore's media. He concluded that the government should upgrade the current budget for hospice care before debates on legalizing active euthanasia takes place.

In view of the aging population, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan noted, "I do not know if Singaporeans are ready for euthanasia. But I do know that aging will throw up many more human stories of agony and suffering."

These discussions which are occurring over Singapore landscape betrays the realistic and complicated view over the issue of life in all its glory an gory. The consumerism culture has been pervasive in drilling the notion of youthfulness into us. Hence many times our view of the world get distorted. We might be thinking that we are in Eden but it does not take long for those anti-aging advertisements on the newspapers grab our notice.

The perennial debates on euthanasia, abortion, just-war & etc are really debates about the status and the identity of human person. What does it mean to be human?

To draw a perspective through euthanasia, the question whether does a person who is socially and economically unproductive (or even passively counterproductive- passive in the sense that they can't prevent themselves from aging) still worth to be provided with medical care? Do these people deserve monetary subsidies and aid by government and family?

An appropriate response, be it Christian or not, cannot be a stringent 'Yes' or 'No' before we acknowledge the difference in each cases. Alex Tang helpfully highlights the difference between a few broad categories in his book, A Good Day To Die: Active Euthanasia, Passive Euthanasia, Voluntary Euthanasia, Involuntary Euthanasia, and Non-Voluntary Euthanasia. (p.13-14)

The small book (with more than 140 references of publication!) discusses options and opinions across the spectrum of the debate without losing its focus on the status and the identity of a human person. Again the question "What does it mean to be human?" underlies each opinions addressed by both pro-euthanasia and anti-euthanasia groups.

As a practicing medical doctor and a theologian, Alex Tang reveals that his stand over this issue grounded under the principle of the sanctity of human life, the sovereignty of God, and the principle of human stewardship (p.117). I think these 3 patterns serve as strong and rightful ground in the debate not only for doctor who are facing this issue, but also to all of us who are concern over the status and the identity of the struggling humans, in particularly ourselves.

No comments: