As we grapple with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, an encouraging truth is shining through: All human life has inherent value. Your age and medical history don’t make you more, or less, worthy of life.
As a society, we are prioritizing the lives of the old and the sick over our own comfort. We don’t see this as a burden, but as a necessary sacrifice. Out of care and concern for the vulnerable, we are participating in social distancing, closing our stores, and staying home to help slow the spread of the virus.
But the responses of eight states and Washington, D.C. are particularly noteworthy.
Why Do These Responses Stand Out?
These responses to the coronavirus might not seem like anything special. Many other states have taken similar steps, after all. And it is heartening to see responses that value the lives of the vulnerable so highly.
But these particular responses highlight an important contradiction.
As these eight states and D.C. rush to protect the vulnerable populations that the coronavirus hits hardest—the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions—their laws simultaneously target these populations.
You see, these states have legalized physician-assisted suicide.
And therein lies the contradiction.
On one hand, the response to COVID-19 shows that our society cares more about the needs of our community than our individual desires. These actions affirm the dignity and worth of every human being. And these states have shown they are willing to bear any cost to prevent the virus from taking more lives than it already has.
On the other hand, physician-assisted suicide writes off the elderly and disabled as burdensome. Insurance companies have failed to subsidize expensive, life-sustaining medical treatment, yet they have subsidized lethal drugs, encouraging vulnerable patients to end their own lives. Physician-assisted suicide offers death as the answer to sickness.
Unfortunately, it has taken a global pandemic for us to understand the value of each of these lives lost.
If we have learned anything from the last few weeks in our country, it is that our society is stronger when we value and defend the lives of the most vulnerable among us.
God-willing, someday soon our lives will return to normal. I hope we carry our renewed understanding of human dignity with us, and that we continue to show this level of care and concern for the vulnerable in our communities as we return to our daily lives.
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