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License to kill

Medicine | Oregon case may signal the next wave in assisted suicide

Issue: "Summer of '68," Aug. 9, 2008

Most inhumanities start small, like the beginning of a tsunami, but then build, as they head toward inevitable and unstoppable destruction.

It is difficult to pinpoint the precise beginning of the cultural tsunami that has devalued human life. Did it begin with the subjugation of women? Did it begin with slavery? The Nazis made their contribution with the Holocaust and Josef Mengele's hideous human experiments. Surely unrestricted abortion added to the growing list of inhumanities.

Now we have the next wave. Randy Stroup is a 53-year-old Oregon man who has prostrate cancer, but no insurance to cover his medical treatment. The state pays for treatment in some cases, but it has denied help to Stroup. State officials have determined that chemotherapy would be too expensive and so they have offered him an alternative: death.

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Oregon's physician-assisted suicide law allows taxpayers to pay for someone to kill Stroup, because it's cheaper than trying to heal him. How twisted is this? Some have called this a "chilling" corruption of medical ethics, but medical ethics have been in the deep freeze for some time. The American Medical Association, which once strongly opposed abortion, now buys into the "choice" argument despite Hippocrates' admonition that physicians make a habit of two things-"to help, or at least to do no harm."

In a culture that values all life, difficult decisions can be made about a life that is at an end and should be allowed to "go." That is a far cry from having a government bureaucrat or panel of "experts" play God and decide, based on cost alone, when your or my life no longer has value in the eyes of the state.

How we view and value ourselves affects how we view and value others. If we are mere evolutionary accidents with no moral value greater than cole slaw, then we quickly begin viewing others as part of the vegetable family. But if we are something far more special, even to the point of having a Creator who has "endowed" us with value beyond that of gold, silver, and paper money, then should we not be treated as such, even by the state?

The Randy Stroup case won't be the last of its kind. Just as Jack Kevorkian's illegal assisted suicide preceded its legalization in Oregon, so, too, will Randy Stroup be the test case in what amounts to mandated medical euthanasia ordered by the state.

When pro-lifers warned about the "slippery slope" more than three decades ago, they were dismissed as alarmists. Not anymore. Their prophecy is being fulfilled.

-© 2008 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Cal Thomas
Cal Thomas

Cal, whose syndicated column appears on WORLD's website and in more than 500 newspapers, is a frequent contributor to WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Cal on Twitter @CalThomas.

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