Yesterday’s piece I posted, written by my colleague Wesley J. Smith, “Pushing for Death on Demand” brought many comments. One comment in particular, stating that death on demand quickly leads us to “duty to die” thinking. I am reminded of an essay in Hastings Center Report which was titled “A Duty to Die”. The author of the essay makes the claim that the duty to die ethic has always been with us. Using the example of the captain of the Titanic, who had a duty to die “go down with the ship” because there were not enough life boats, he goes on to extrapolate from this principle. So for example, elderly people may have a duty to die since we may not have enough medical resources. Or disabled people may have the duty to die if there are not enough resources. This thinking sends chills up my spine. To take a noble concept, like the good shepard who would lay down his life for his sheep and translate that into the notion that some are not worthy enough to deserve our medical resources is a grave distortion of human life and dignity.
- Jennifer Lahl, MA, BSN, RN, is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.