The Dangerous Road Called Euthanasia

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Air Date: November 18, 2014

Host: Jim Schneider

Guest: Dr. Kathy McReynolds

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Dr. Kathy McReynolds is Director of Academic Studies for the Joni & Friends Christian Institute on Disability. Dr. McReynolds develops position papers on the many ethical issues in bioethics for the benefit of the disabled. She also contributes to curriculum development for the variety of courses in disability studies that the Institute is creating for colleges, universities and seminaries around the country. She has spent several years as an active member of the ethics committee a Children’s Hospital in Orange County and was a member of the Institutional Review Board Committee at the hospital.

How did we get to where we are today concerning the issue of euthanasia? Dr. McReynolds began by noting the definition of ‘dignity’ which is the state or quality of being worthy of honor and respect. In light of that definition, how is it possible that we can even link the subjects of death and dignity? She believes there is nothing dignifying at all about death. So the problem actually takes place when we link autonomy and dignity together and determine that if we are able to choose death on our own terms, somehow death now becomes dignified.

Dr. McReynolds credits the 80’s and 90’s with the language promoting death with dignity. It was primarily a reaction to the rapid medical and technological advances that enable doctors to keep people alive in almost unending fashion. From this came the idea that we’re now able to remain alive beyond natural boundaries. This culminated in the 1997 Oregon decision when they became the first state to legalize assisted suicide (death with dignity).

The acceptance of the right to die has progressed faster in Europe than it has here in the U.S. Assisted suicide in which doctors prescribe lethal drugs but do not administer them is legal in Switzerland, Germany and Albania as well as in Colombia, Japan and the Canadian province of Quebec.

Jim and Dr. McReynolds look at a precedent setting euthanasia case involving a child in the U.K., the U.K.’s move toward suicide courts, the Brittany Maynard story, a ‘mercy’ killing by a California man, what role should the church play in this culture of death, as well as input from Crosstalk listeners.

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