Physician Assisted Suicide: Is it Ethical?

 Physician's are now giving pills to patients as a form of assisted suicide in California. Photo from

Physician's are now giving pills to patients as a form of assisted suicide in California. Photo from

Alex Forster, Staff Writer

California recently joined Oregon, Montana, Washington and Vermont in the decision to legalize physician-assisted suicide.

The state legislature recently passed a bill that will allow doctors to provide pills to end a patient’s life at his or her request. The law will expire in 10 years, and will have to be re-approved in order to be legal again. Physician-assisted suicide is a process that usually occurs when a patient is near death or death is inevitable. California requires the assistance be requested three times, at least once in writing, by a patient in good mental health who has been examined by two different medical experts.

The ethics behind physician-assisted suicide have been greatly debated. Is it wrong to help someone take his or her own life, even if it simply shortens the suffering and pain that would otherwise occur? Or is it a form of “mercy killing,” a way to help those who are suffering end their pain? There are many different arguments for each side; but what does the Bible say? What stance should Christians take?

Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it." This verse clearly illustrates that the Lord is sovereign over all, every aspect of life here on earth, including death, belongs to him. Our lives are not our own.

Jeff Rankin, a professor of Christian Studies at NGU, explained that when humans do not have the right to decide when to die for ourselves.

“Life and death are up to God, when we step in and make that decision ourselves, it is essentially the same as murder. Whatever words we use to describe it, that is God’s domain, and we are overstepping our boundaries if we make that decision ourselves," said Rankin.

Christian Studies major Grant Richardson said, “Calling it something different and putting a prettier name on it doesn’t change what it is."

Supporters of physician assisted suicide often appeal to the emotional side of opponents, calling it “mercy killing” and explaining that it would help end the incredible pain and suffering that patients may be experiencing. While it is incredibly difficult for terminally ill patients to suffer, and just as hard for their families and loved ones to watch them suffer, it is not right to take their lives.

Romans 14:8 says, “…whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s." The bottom line is that, we belong to the Lord, and it is not meant to be our decision or our right to decide when someone should die. Just as suicide is wrong, so is assisting someone in it.