Both assisted suicide and euthanasia are anti-Christian medical practices that pro-lifers should condemn. Euthanasia is the intentional killing of a patient and usually involves administering lethal drugs to the person in order to cause an unnatural death. Assisted suicide involves prescribing the same lethal drug, but the patient self-administers.
In California, assisted suicide is legal while euthanasia is not. Thankfully, a U.S. District Judge in California has ruled to keep euthanasia illegal by approving a motion to dismiss Shavelson v Bonta.
Shavelson’s initial attempt to legalize euthanasia by extending California’s assisted suicide law was rejected on June 22, 2022. In that case, Justice Vince Chhabria rejected the idea that euthanasia needed to be an option in case a person is unable to self-administer lethal drugs. Chhabria’s recent decision was in response to Shavelson’s effort to amend the case.
Chhabria dismissed the case and asserted that no further amendment should be made, writing:
“It seems unlikely that that the plaintiffs could adequately allege (and ultimately demonstrate) standing under this alternative reading of the requested accommodation if given another attempt. But even if they did, the Court would dismiss the lawsuit on the merits. Setting aside the assistance prohibition would cross the sharp line drawn by the California Legislature between assisted suicide and euthanasia, and thus would fundamentally alter the nature of the program for the same basic reasons discussed in the prior ruling. Shavelson, 2022 WL 2234973. And that dismissal would be with prejudice, given the number of chances the plaintiffs have now had to state a claim.
The dismissal for lack of jurisdiction is therefore without leave to amend—it is clear by now that further amendment would be futile.”
Thankfully, Chhabria made the right decision based on existing law rather than legislating from the bench. The US Supreme Court previously ruled that there is no right to assisted suicide, meaning there is no need to expand California’s assisted suicide law to resolve a perceived “inequality.”
If euthanasia and assisted suicide become standard practice, it would undermine the doctor-patient relationship and hinder improvements in end-of-life care. These deadly practices are incompatible with a doctor’s role as healer. Further, the option of ending one’s life early with the help of a physician might pressure terminally ill patients who are concerned about being a burden to their families into choosing that option when they might not have considered suicide otherwise.
Ultimately, euthanasia is no less than murder. No law should permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether it be an embryo, an elderly person, or anyone in between. That authority belongs to God alone.
Hopefully, this case will set an important precedent, but it will likely not be the end of the euthanasia debate in California. Pro-lifers must continue to champion the value and dignity of life at every stage and vote for representatives who do the same.