Thursday, 20 October 2016

Life, sickness, and death

Today we celebrated my daughter Noelle’s 3rd birthday. She’s a lovely little girl, full of sweet and amusing character, even if she seems quiet at times. But when she was born, there were a few complications, one of them being particularly serious, potentially life-threatening. The doctor took me to a side room to explain her condition, and I did not know what he was saying, but I understood perfectly well that whatever her condition was, it was quite serious. Long story short, after a few weeks in NICU, Noelle came home with a very positive outlook. We are thankful to God and all those who prayed for us.

During those times of uncertainty and fear, I knew God was in control. Whether He takes her life or not, whether He brings a life-long disability on her or not, God would do what is right. I knew He was never malicious. He was trustworthy, and He was all-powerful. But the Bible never specifies how long a man’s life would be (or a girl’s, in this case). So I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, and there were moments when I was more afraid than I wished to be.

But there was something I didn’t doubt. Actually there were several things I could say that I didn’t doubt. But one thing I want to say here is that I never doubted that the doctors and nurses would do anything intentionally to harm our little girl. They may be a little incompetent (some did seem incompetent to my untrained eyes), or careless (we are all human after all and make mistakes). But I never doubted that they would do everything they could to make our girl better. I fully assumed and trusted that their sole intention for my little girl was that she would survive by whatever medical actions they took. Some tests, like Lumbar Puncture, looked scarier and more dangerous than others, and the medical staff sometimes looked tired or uncaring (at least from the point of view of this hyper-sensitised dad with his daughter in NICU, his wife in a post-labour recovery room, and a toddler to take care of!). But it never crossed my mind that they would ever intend to do something to harm or even kill her. I don’t think I was wrong to assume that and trust the medical staff. And thankfully, all their hard work was not in vain. As I mentioned, our little Noelle got better, and she is now a sweet 3 year-old girl.

And then this podcast. I listened to it just now.
Here are some keywords. Bio ethics. Medical ethics. Euthanasia. “Right” to die. Hippocratic Oath. Assisted suicide. Organ harvest. Death culture.

Whether you are familiar with these terms or not, I strongly recommend you listen to the podcast. I felt sick in the stomach, disgusted at the state of the culture we are in and where the so-called ethicists are trying to take us. I cannot do justice to the content by summarising it. But here’s the thing. If the majority of bio-ethicists would continue to have their way, what I described above about my daughter would have looked very different. I would not only be worried about my baby daughter’s well-being, but I would be forced to weigh her life’s worth and her chance of survival and calculate it against some number, probably in monetary value. It would be naïve to assume the intention of the medical staff, because they would have done their own calculations, and they may as well make a very different conclusion from my own about the worth of my daughter. What’s more, if my daughter or any of my children ever become disabled or have a mental disorder, I will no longer be able to trust the medical staff, not because they lack knowledge or skills, but because they may have a different intention towards my disabled child. And it’s not just the medical staff, of course. It’s the whole society, people you meet on the streets, people you share your struggles with, people to whom you tell about your daughter’s sickness. If the majority of bio-ethicists would have their way for few more decades, I don’t think it’s a far stretch to imagine a situation where you share with someone about your depressed teenage daughter, whom you love and care for and are worried about, and get a response, 'Have you thought about taking her to an assisted-suicide clinic?’ Too far? Too disgusting? I’m glad you feel that way. I do, too. But know that not everyone feels this way. If you doubt this, again, listen to the podcast. And I invite you to pray to God to act in mercy, to give us wisdom and courage to do something about this.

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