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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Should assisted suicide be legal?

First define what it is and isn't

A capable and approachable pastor suffering unbearably with AIDS, Jeff committed suicide. Alone. Jean was pulled back from death by an impassioned husband who insisted on every help possible. Now he's dead. And she's permanently imprisoned by injuries in a nursing home. Marie asks, "Why don't I just die?" Her fears are of this world: "There won't be any money left for my daughter" and "What if the pain keeps getting worse?"

Assisted suicide should be a legal option for all the Jeffs, Jeans and Maries I met in my ministry. Culture and the church have conditioned us to believe that assisted suicide is an unforgivable sin — against God and society. Why do we uphold individuals' rights to lifestyle choices yet deny that they might know what's best for themselves at the end of life? Only they can know their pain and tolerance.


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