On November 1, after checking into a hotel, a mother of two took sleeping pills, held a plastic bag over her head, and ended her own life. She got the idea from Derek Humphry, the founder of the modern group, Compassion and Choices.
This was in the year 1992. The woman’s name was Frances.
She had been reading the book, Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying by Derek Humphry. Released in March 1991, his book became a best-seller. His book is a DIY (Do It Yourself) manual for how to commit suicide.
Humphry was the founding member of the Hemlock Society, a euthanasia advocacy group. The group now goes by a different euphemistic name: Compassion and Choices.
DEREK HUMPHRY, FOUNDER OF COMPASSION AND CHOICES: DEATH PEDDLER
Humphry assisted in the suicide of his first wife, Jean Crane. His second wife, Ann Wickett, also committed suicide, but not before accusing her husband of murdering his first wife. Humphry also assisted in the suicides of both parents of Ann’s.
Beyond Frances, Humphry claimed hundreds of people used his advice to cause the ending of their own lives in suicide. He called physician-assisted suicide “the ultimate civil liberty,” in a letter to the editor of the New York Times (August 11, 1992).
Humphry’s Hemlock Society now has a new name: Compassion and Choices, but the same mission: to peddle death, with the veneer of “compassion.”
BRITTANY MAYNARD: LOST SOUL
Compassion and Choices has experienced a resurgence of notoriety recently, with their partnership with Brittany Maynard. This married woman, as you are likely well aware, made headlines by announcing to the world she intends to commit suicide on November 1, 2014.
November 1. Again.
That will be the same day as All Saints Day, a Feast Day and a Day of Holy Obligation in the Catholic Church. It’s a day when the Church celebrates all the saints who made it to Heaven. This includes those who have yet to be canonized or given a feast day on the liturgical calendar.
November 1 is a day to honor those who remained faithful to God, in their daily lives, until God called them home. Some of them died as martyrs. But the only martyrs who are rewarded with the beatific vision are those who die out of love for Jesus Christ.
“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” said Jesus (John 15:13).
Contrast that to the godless decision Brittany Maynard has made. In place of dying for Christ, she is dying out of love of self. Instead of trusting God, she is “dying on her own terms.” She is playing God.
When she passes, she intends to be surrounded by family, in the comfort of her own bed, listening to music she enjoys, she says.
It is true, this woman requires empathy for the cancer diagnosis she received. Back in April 2014 she was told she had six months until the doctors expected her to die to the disease.
But why does she deserve compassion for her diagnosis? Precisely because life—all life—has intrinsic value. For her to learn she is likely to die before reaching an elderly age means her life will be shorter than many others.
We should mourn her losing her life, while she maintains a desire to live. Why are we celebrating someone who does not want to live anyway?
The media has gravitated to her story, heralding her as heroic. This just adds to the scandal of her actions. She can claim to not want to die, but why then schedule an action that contradicts her words?
SUICIDE GOES AGAINST HUMAN NATURE
Suicide defies the Natural Law of human nature.
Self-preservation remains a cornerstone of human existence and to society as a whole. To say any one person should be allowed—even encouraged—to kill herself, we are devaluing all human life, even our own.
Further, life itself has intrinsic value. It is a gift that we did not earn. To end it voluntarily without just cause is a grave sin.
As well, suicide sins against God, usurping His role as the arbiter of life and death (Deuteronomy 32:39).
Beyond these points, St. Thomas Aquinas asserts that suicide is a sin against charity. We all ought to love ourselves and to violate that love by ending one’s own life. He writes, “Hence suicide is always a mortal sin, as being contrary to the natural law and to charity.”
The Culture of Death wants us to call good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20). It wants us to celebrate someone’s choice to commit a grave sin. This Brittany Maynard story has grown out of control. Woe to those who are congratulating her.
SUFFERING CAN BE MERITORIUOS, AND IS NEVER POINTLESS
Only the Catholic Church has an appreciation for suffering. God does not will that we suffer, but He permits it, in His providence, so that a greater good can come for it.
In the instance of Brittany Maynard, she has chosen to forgo the suffering, and whatever redemption she could have found in it. She will kill herself instead of allowing for that.
Perhaps God wanted to teach her how dependent she is on Him. Maybe he wants her to seek His forgiveness and mercy. Maybe by giving her this cancer diagnosis, God sought to miraculously heal her so as to show His power. Likely, we’ll never know.
“SOME INDIVIDUALS HAVE A DUTY TO DIE”
On top of opting to kill herself, Brittany Maynard has partnered with Compassion and Choices to advocate for physician-assisted suicide to be legalized in all 50 states. She has, in effect, said her life is not worth living beyond a certain threshold of coming suffering. And she, in effect, has said others’ lives should be taken as well.
The group founder, Humphry said, “Some individuals have a duty to die” (Assisted Suicide, p. 199).
As Brittany Maynard exemplifies, the Culture of Death cares only about a quality of life measurement.
Saying anyone has the “right” to kill herself is to say that we all do.
Which begs big questions, such as: who gets to die? Who decides who gets to die? Who gets to decide the quality of life standard?
These are questions human beings do not have the capacity to answer. Life and death needs to be left to the discretion of the Creator, God.
So as November 1 approaches, let us ask for the prayers of the saints who have gone before us. May this poor woman change her mind. And may we stop celebrating the admittance our lives are meaningless, without God.
Cover photo courtesy of abcnews.go.com