Most people don’t want to talk about it, or even think about it. Woody Allen explained why:
“I am not afraid of dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
It is not a comfortable subject. We all know it’s gonna happen someday. For a young person, that someday is perceived to be far off in the future. Middle age is a busy time for most people. They don’t have much time to think about such things. Retirement and old age…and the knowledge that The Day is approaching…tends to make people think about the end of their life, and to start planning for it. Updating wills, handing off family heirlooms to their children, etc. One important issue that all older folks should address is instructions on medical care when the end is near. Suzanne and I have signed Living Wills, which stipulate that “no heroic measures” should be taken to prolong our lives. Some people have even arranged for voluntary termination of life, otherwise known as “death with dignity.” This is legal in ten states, and the number is growing.
The Catholic Church is adamantly opposed to what they call “assisted suicide,” and the hospitals under their control will not allow the procedure, even in states where it is legal. The Church has used its vast financial resources, subsidized by government at all levels through tax exemptions and tax-deductible donations, to take over hospitals and other health care facilities all over the country. Many people, especially the poor, cannot travel the hundreds of miles to a non-Catholic facility to obtain such services in some areas. They are denied their rights to obtain such procedures. This is also true for abortion and even contraceptive procedures. The Church has found a way to override secular laws established by the democratic process. In effect, they make their own laws, and justify them by quoting the “Free Exercise” clause in the Constitution. I do not think the writers of the Constitution intended that clause to enable religious believers to torture dying people in order to coerce them to accept religious belief. An article in the March issue of Church & State magazine spells out how they do this: (See Link at end of article)
- Your documented preference to forgo medically assisted nutrition or hydration will likely be ignored ff you have dementia, which could result in the artificial extension of your life, long beyond your documented desire, or the time natural death would occur.
- It may be difficult for your health care proxy to honor your desire to remove a feeding tube or other form of life support, even if you are in a persistent vegetative state and have clearly documented preferences stating otherwise.
- Your doctor’s only option is to help you “appreciate the Christian understanding of redemptive suffering” if your pain is uncontrollable, rather than honoring your request for medical aid in dying. In some cases, your request for additional pain medication may even be denied.
The last one, in particular, enrages me. “Redemptive suffering?” These religious freaks want to torture people on their deathbeds, to coerce nonbelievers into accepting their superstitious beliefs. That is despicable, medieval, and beyond any reasonable notion of civilized humanitarian measures.
If I needed any further proof of the damage that religious belief can inflict on society, this is the final confirmation.