Should the mentally ill be allowed to choose to end their own lives? That’s a question causing a good deal of debate in Canada as the government seeks to (yet again) expand the eligibility criteria for what they call medical assistance in dying (or MAiD). While the implementation of this expansion continues to be delayed, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before it becomes the law of the land—but should it be?
Supporters of this expansion claim that it’s a human rights issue (which is the same argument made for the terminally and chronically ill—those who are currently allowed to choose MAiD) and that “denying mentally ill people access to the same humane option to end their suffering amounts to discrimination.” Now, keep in mind that “Canada already has one of the most liberal assisted death laws in the world” and that “about 13,200 Canadians had an assisted death last year, a 31 percent increase over 2021.”
To answer the question of whether or not this expansion should become the law of the land, we have to look at the question of human rights. What are they and how/why do we have them? Well, many people today think, or at least act like, human rights are a gift of the benevolent government or maybe the UN or some other body that issues policy. But if this is true, why should human beings have rights? What gives us the unique and intrinsic value that demands rights? After all, we’re (supposedly!) just the result of random chance processes over millions of years and we’re just animals. Why should we have more rights than an earthworm or a lemon—after all, we’re (supposedly!) related to them!
Human rights only make sense if they are bestowed by the Creator who made humans unique from the rest of creation and in his very image.
Human rights only make sense if they are bestowed by the Creator who made humans unique from the rest of creation and in his very image. They only make sense within a biblical worldview. Human rights aren’t arbitrary, to be given to some people and not to others (like the right to life). And human rights also aren’t arbitrary in the sense that they change over time (like adding a supposed right to end your own life). Human rights are given by God, come from his Word, and don’t change based on the winds of human opinion, politics, or popularity.
So does God give human beings a right to “liberty and security” that includes freedom from “intolerable suffering”? No, he does not. We live in a sin-cursed and broken world that includes suffering of all kinds, including deep and long-lasting suffering. But God never gives us the right to end that suffering by taking our own lives or having a doctor take our life for us. He calls us to cling to him in the deep waters, trusting in his love and sovereignty, and looking toward the bright hope we have of future glory—in other words, to believe and apply the gospel even in the midst of suffering!
Those who are suffering from a terminal, chronic, or mental illness don’t need death (a death that, if they are not saved, will result in the second death of eternal separation from God in hell)—they ultimately need the gospel and the truth of God’s Word! And, of course, in a fallen world we should be continuing to offer high-quality palliative care for those who are suffering from illness and disease towards the end of their lives.
No, Canadians do not have a human right to end their own lives, because rights don’t come from the government, they come from the Creator. God is the one who gives and takes away, not us (Job 1:21).
This item was discussed yesterday on Answers News with cohosts Avery Foley, Dr. Gabriela Haynes, and Dr. Tim Chaffey. Answers News is our weekly news program filmed live before a studio audience here at the Creation Museum, broadcast on our Answers in Genesis YouTube channel, and posted to Answers TV. We also covered the following topics:
Be sure to join us each Wednesday at 2 p.m. (ET) on YouTube or later that day on Answers TV for Answers News. You won’t want to miss this unique news program that gives science and culture news from a distinctly biblical and Christian perspective.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.
I have a shocking revelation for you today—according to a new study, men and women are different from one another!
A secular worldview struggles to answer identity questions, as evidenced by the answer Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson recently gave to why humans are special.