Evangelicals in the Minority When It Comes To Assisted Suicide Views
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A new survey finds most Americans think assisted suicide is morally acceptable. However, most Evangelical Christians say the practice is wrong. Assisted suicide is when a doctor gives a terminally ill patient a deadly drug, at the patient’s request. The purpose of assisted suicide is to allow the patient to avoid end-of-life pain and suffering.
The survey was conducted by Lifeway Research. Executive director Scott McConnell says the findings indicate Americans want more say over how they die. He says that’s especially true if facing a painful, terminal illness, he says.
“If they are facing a slow, painful death, Americans want options,” he says, “Many believe that asking for help in dying is a moral option. They don’t believe that suffering until they die of natural causes is the only way out.”
The survey respondents were asked to either agree or disagree with the following statement: “When a person is facing a painful terminal disease, it is morally acceptable to ask for a physician’s aid in taking his or her own life.” Two-thirds of all the respondents agreed. This included Americans of all age groups. Even the majority of people of faith such as Catholics and Protestants and those who attended religious services only occasionally, such as less than once a month agreed with the statement.
However, Evangelical Christians were reversed in their opinions. Two-thirds disagreed with the statement. The majority of people who attended religious services more frequently than once a month disagreed as did the majority of African-American respondents.
“Traditional Christian teaching says God holds the keys to life and death,” says McConnell. “Those who go to church or hold more traditional beliefs are less likely to see assisted suicide as morally acceptable. Still a surprising number do.”
Assisted suicide is not only a moral dilemma for some people of faith, it also poses a conflict for the medical community, particularly doctors, who historically take the Hippocratic Oath upon graduation from medical school. New doctors often pledge to “first, do no harm.” Likewise, the American Medical Association has described physician assisted suicide as a serious risk to society and “fundamentally incompatible with a physician’s role as healer.” Nevertheless, many physicians take part in assisted suicide.
It first became legal in the U.S. in 1997 in the state of Oregon, where since then, nearly one-thousand people have ended their lives by taking lethal doses of medications prescribed by a consenting doctor. Five other states have approved physician-assisted suicide: Colorado, Washington, California, Vermont and Montana. Also Washington, D.C. approved it, although the measure has yet to be ratified by Congress.
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