Euthanasia vs. Abortion: Is The Church Inconsistent?

I know we’ve already had a good discussion here at Mormon Matters about euthanasia.  But as this subject has been on my mind lately, due to the news I got recently that my grandfather has terminal cancer, I was struck by what seems to me as a huge inconsistency on the Church’s part if we compare its policies on euthanasia and abortion.

First of all, the Church’s official stance on euthanasia is as follows:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sanctity of human life, and is therefore opposed to euthanasia. Euthanasia is defined as deliberately putting to death a person who is suffering from an incurable condition or disease. Such a deliberate act ends life immediately through, for example, so-called assisted suicide. Ending a life in such a manner is a violation of the commandments of God.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not believe that allowing a person to die from natural causes by removing a patient from artificial means of life support, as in the case of a long-term illness, falls within the definition of euthanasia. When dying from such an illness or an accident becomes inevitable, it should be seen as a blessing and a purposeful part of eternal existence. Members should not feel obligated to extend mortal life by means that are unreasonable. These judgments are best made by family members after receiving wise and competent medical advice and seeking divine guidance through fasting and prayer.

On abortion, the Church states:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sanctity of human life. Therefore, the Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience, and counsels its members not to submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions.

The Church allows for possible exceptions for its members when:

• Pregnancy results from rape or incest, or

• A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy, or

• A competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.

I find it interesting that in regards to people suffering from a painful, terminal illness, “(e)uthanasia is defined as deliberately putting to death a person who is suffering from an incurable condition or disease” and the Church is opposed to it. And yet, when it comes to abortion, the Church states that it is acceptable when “(a) competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.”

Why is it OK to actively end the life of the baby, but not the terminally-ill cancer patient, when there is no hope of either of them surviving?  Is such an abortion not alsodeliberately putting to death a person who is suffering from an incurable condition or disease… a deliberate act (that) ends life immediately?”

When it comes to the aborting the fetus, why is “(e)nding a life in such a manner” apparently NOT “a violation of the commandments of God?”

Why is the baby not obligated to be carried to term and to live for as long as it survives and endure a natural death like the cancer patient?

Discuss.

Comments

comments

67 comments for “Euthanasia vs. Abortion: Is The Church Inconsistent?

  1. August 12, 2009 at 4:42 am

    The critical difference is that while a living adult human being has a spirit in them, we don’t know when the same is true for a baby. Barring further revelation, we seem to have adopted the position that abortion is permissible under certain “safety-valve” conditions, as is divorce. Neither will exist in the perfect Zion someday.

    FWIW, I think the Church is being inconsistent when we insist everyone call us Christians but we won’t let the fundamentalists be called Mormons. That’s a threadjack for another day, however.

  2. brjones
    August 12, 2009 at 6:07 am

    If this is an inconsistency, which I’m not convinced it is, it is a fairly insignificant one, in my opinion. Even at that, there are critical differences between a fetus that will not survive past birth and a living, breathing human being suffering from a terminal illness. First of all, the idea that the church should require that the parents let the child be born and “live for as long as it survives” is inapplicable here. The church’s position clearly states that for abortion to be permissible the child must be declared to be unable to survive the birth. In other words, apparently only children who it is determined will die at birth or sooner may be aborted. It would seem to follow that if there is a question about how long the child will live, even if it is a very short time after birth, abortion would be inappropriate. Furthermore, it goes without saying that the tangible, practical benefits to be derived from a living, breathing human being in the time he or she has left on earth, are infinitely greater in the case of a terminally ill person over that of a fetus that will never live outside the womb. (Think of the service, missionary and temple work that might be done by someone in their dying days). More relevant, though, are the doctrinal implications of the policies. According to LDS doctrine, the purpose of mortal life is to be tested so that one may be judged based on one’s actions and faithfulness in this life. For a person suffering from a terminal illness, not only is euthanasia artificially shortening this probationary state, but it is shortcutting what must be viewed by believers as the ultimate trial given personally to that person by god. Instead of enduring to the end in christ, that person may be viewed as choosing not to deal with the trial at all by ending his or her life prematurely. Obviously LDS doctrine teaches that an infant doomed to die at birth has no need to prove itself in mortality, as it is destined to receive celestial glory as a result of its inevitable infant death. From a doctrinal standpoint I think this position is completely consistent. If eternal salvation for all is the church’s first priority, then I think both of the church’s positions are absolutely geared to facilitate that goal.

  3. Last Lemming
    August 12, 2009 at 7:41 am

    The difference is that the abortion policy takes the rights of the mother into account as well as those of the fetus. For the most part, mothers aren’t granted a lot of rights in the Church’s abortion policy, but this clause demonstrates that they have not been altogether ignored. There is no comparable conflict of rights with regard to euthanasia, hence no comparable exception.

  4. brjones
    August 12, 2009 at 8:26 am

    #3 – I’m not sure how the rights of the mother are affected by having a baby die at birth. Are you talking about the second subsection of the abortion policy?

  5. Last Lemming
    August 12, 2009 at 9:22 am

    I’m referring to the right of the mother to decline to carry a doomed fetus. (Although I should acknowledge that the other two abortion exceptions also extend rights of the mother.)

  6. August 12, 2009 at 9:42 am

    I agree that this is a big inconsistency. If anything, I would expect more latitude for euthanasia since it generally involves a person with a full life dying only slightly earlier than would happen naturally and the person is capable of voicing their own opinion on the matter. These facts make the moral water much less muddy than those we find when considering abortion.

  7. Charles
    August 12, 2009 at 9:52 am

    “Why is it OK to actively end the life of the baby, but not the terminally-ill cancer patient, when there is no hope of either of them surviving?…..”

    because its a fetus and not a baby, so different rules apply.

  8. Charles
    August 12, 2009 at 9:55 am

    #3 True. I agree.

  9. brjones
    August 12, 2009 at 10:03 am

    I just don’t see how this is a “big inconsistency.” Those of you who think it is, would you please address the doctrinal considerations I discussed above. I think that aspect is being completely ignored, and I would be really interested to hear anyone’s view that the church is being inconsistent with its primary function. I don’t think it’s surprising or necessarily disturbing that there will be internal inconsistencies among difference church policies. So long as each policy, and all of the church’s policies taken as a whole, are consistent with the church’s stated mission, I don’t think there’s a problem. If the church’s goal is the salavtion of each person, then both of the policies being discussed are completely consistent, in my opinion. Again, I’d be curious to hear why anyone thinks that is not true.

  10. August 12, 2009 at 10:05 am

    First, with the risk of getting yelled at, I will just say it: I think the church to a degree recognizes there is a difference between an unborn fetus and a living breathing adult with family, friends, memories etc… even if many of the members don’t.

    Look, this is a really tricky question and needs to be discussed, but at the end of the day, it is wise to make such a distinction. (Experience plays a large part too.)

  11. brjones
    August 12, 2009 at 10:27 am

    #10 – I completely agree.

  12. August 12, 2009 at 11:05 am

    What about the death penalty? I realize that the Church is officially neutral on capital punishment, its reluctance to outright condemn it seems like an imbalance of priorities. I would think that the Church would condemn murder and support imprisonment, but at the same time take a stronger stand against capital punishment, since God should decide how long a person should rot in prison awaiting to die a natural death, just as many believe he should decide how long a person is going to rot on their death bed, awaiting to die a natural death.

    I just find it troubling that the Church takes such a strong stand on someone’s decision to end their pain and suffering when they are dying anyways — citing “the sanctity of life” — but has nothing to say about executions being carried out in the US and around the world, many of which are innocents being put to death against their will. I think that the Catholic Church’s view on the sanctity of life — though I see it as being much too rigid — is at least more consistent than the LDS.

  13. August 12, 2009 at 11:23 am

    “Furthermore, it goes without saying that the tangible, practical benefits to be derived from a living, breathing human being in the time he or she has left on earth, are infinitely greater in the case of a terminally ill person over that of a fetus that will never live outside the womb. (Think of the service, missionary and temple work that might be done by someone in their dying days).”

    Most of the dying people I’ve seen aren’t really in a state of body or mind where performing temple work is a priority or even a possibility. We’re not talking about euthanasia for those who have just gotten a terminal diagnosis. We’re talking about those who are bed-ridden, writhing in pain, where even morphine isn’t really helping.

    “More relevant, though, are the doctrinal implications of the policies. According to LDS doctrine, the purpose of mortal life is to be tested so that one may be judged based on one’s actions and faithfulness in this life. For a person suffering from a terminal illness, not only is euthanasia artificially shortening this probationary state, but it is shortcutting what must be viewed by believers as the ultimate trial given personally to that person by god.”

    I guess it depends on how active or passive a role God takes in our lives. If you believe that God purposely and intentionally inflicts a person with a horrible disease, then I can see your argument here. God wants us to suffer horribly. But I think that most Mormons believe that God’s role in illnesses like cancer is more passive. He doesn’t inflict us with it on purpose, but he allows it to happen. I think that most would also agree that God is OK with a person undergoing chemo, radiation, taking pain-killers, etc, to lessen the burden. Why, then, would he suddenly cease to want the sick person to have his burden of pain lessened at the time when he needs it most? Seems like an inconsistent argument to me.

  14. brjones
    August 12, 2009 at 11:50 am

    #13 – I disagree with your last comment. Trials are supposedly given from god as opportunities for growth. I agree that there are some things that most mormons would agree are allowed to happen and not directed at an individual, but either way I think that point is irrelevant. Your trials are what your trials are, and you are going to be judged based on how you deal with them. I find it almost impossible to conceive of a conceptualization of “enduring to the end” that includes killing yourself to avoid suffering. Frankly, I think the idea is offensive to the entire concept of enduring trials well and dealing with adversity. Personally, I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with Euthanasia. However, I think this is another instance where active members will simply bend the church’s position and doctrines to suit their personal position on an issue. Not only is the church crystal clear on the issue, I think the doctrine is in complete agreement with the church’s official position.

    And as an aside, Faithful, I find it somewhat comical that anyone would be incredulous at the idea that god would purposely and intentionally inflict a person with a horrible disease. Giving someone cancer doesn’t rank in the top 1,000 of the things god has intentionally inflicted on individuals, so I’m not really swayed by the idea that god is just too nice and caring to ever do something like that.

  15. August 12, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Brjones, if God does purposely and intentionally inflict us with disease, would prevention in terms of lifestyle choices be a waste of time in your eyes?

  16. brjones
    August 12, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Well, this is only an academic exercise for me, because I don’t believe in god. That said, even assuming god exists and the church is true, the answer to your question is still difficult to answer. Theoretically, assuming god exists and he’s given us the scriptures and commandments and all that, then even if he does intentionally inflict us with disease, we will still be blessed if we are righteous and open ourselves to pain and suffering if we’re not. Ultimately, the end goal is exaltation, so it has to be pointed out that blessings in the next life will trump anything that goes on in this life, which would, again, theoretically, be reason enough to tailor our lifestyle choices to god’s will. The problem I have always run into is that things like disease and suffering don’t ever really fall along the lines of who is righteous and obedient and who is not. The reality remains at the very least unpredictable. This leaves me with two options: either a) god doesn’t have anything to do with our suffering or b) he does have a hand in causing and/or preventing our suffering but there is no way to predict who is targeted with suffering and who is shielded from it. Within that construct our behavior vis-a-vis his commandments is completely irrelevant. If he wants to target you he’s going to target you and clearly obedience to the commandments or any other proactive behavior on your part is meaningless, and the only real motivation for obeying is post-mortal.

    All that said, there are many diseases and sufferings that we inflict on ourselves through our lifestyle choices. Fascinatingly, god doesn’t see fit to inflict anyone with AIDS or an STD who avoided all of the behaviors associated with those afflictions (blood transfusions, etc., in the past obviously excluded). So while afflictions like cancer or car accidents are seemingly random, preventative behavior in terms of lifestyle choices is clearly an effective prevention of many other afflictions, and is certainly not a waste of time. I guess my answer would be that lifestyle choices that demonstrably reduce the chances of one’s having certain afflictions are obviously worthwhile. Lifestyle choices that are solely geared to reduce our suffering by pleasing god and grant us some kind of supernatural shield are not. This seems relatively self-evident to me.

  17. Karen William
    August 12, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    I don’t understand why culturally we believe it is abusive to allow animals to suffer excruciating pain while they are dying, but we believe it is God’s will when humans are forced to do so. With freedom of choice should come the freedom to end suffering during the final stages of dying. I agree with FD. If the Church supports life, it should speak out against the death penalty. If the Church can make an acception for abortion when the life of the mother is at stake, surely it can allow euthansia when physicians have determined that a person is suffering unbearable pain which cannot be medically controlled while they are dying. Anyone who believes that unspeakable suffering at death is part of God’s merciful plan for us should a lot of time with those who are dying. Perhaps your opinion might be changed if you saw first-hand the horrible suffering that some endure while they are dying.

  18. geb
    August 12, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    An elderly person is not the same as a fetus. Many people do not feel a fetus is a person. It depends on how you define that. The elderly person has a long history and life experience, which makes a difference. Of course, here in Oregon, the terminally ill elderly person can request a prescription that they can use to end their life if they so choose. The Church opposes that, but the people of Oregon twice voted that this should be allowed. This is not euthanasia, but suicide, since it can’t be administered by another person, according to the law.

  19. brjones
    August 12, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    #17 – I continue to be confused by these comments. Why will no one address the doctrinal issues at hand here? Animals are not on this earth in a probationary state and to see if they will “do all things things whatsoever the lord their god shall command them.” No, they are not. And this scripture does not apply to children who die before the age of 8 either. There is absolutely no comparison. There is no conflicting doctrinal interest in ending the lives of animals when they’re suffering or even killing them to thin out their population. How can you possibly compare the treatment of animals to that of human beings? Does enduring to the end not constitute something that the lord our god has commanded us? How about not committing murder, including suicide? I fail to see where anyone that is a believing member of the church has a leg to stand on in arguing that the church should allow assisted suicide. I have yet to see a compelling argument. If you don’t believe in the truthfulness of mormon doctrine, then I agree with your premise completely and I think there is a great argument to be had. Otherwise, I just don’t see where the justification is coming from. Frankly, the suffering of the individual is irrelevant to this argument.

  20. sxark
    August 12, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    God knows the intent of one’s heart. If those involved with preforming the deed have other selfish motives and are taking advantage of an unfortunate situation to preform that deed, then this will be [another] issue they will have to answer to when they leave this world and meet their maker, face to face, in their sins.

  21. brjones
    August 12, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    #20 – I don’t understand this comment. Are you talking about those who help someone else die? I wouldn’t consider it murder to help someone end their life, but there’s no question that arranging for your own death, even if you don’t ultimately control the vehicle of death, is absolutely suicide, even if it’s not legally considered so.

  22. sxark
    August 12, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Arranging one’s own death creates fine points of distinction. I’m aware of policemen, who were diagnosed with inoperable cancer, who arranged to be shot by a fellow policeman, so that their families would receive a much higher insurance payout.
    Is this murder? Is it suicide? Are there mitigating circumstances?
    What did the Jewish rebels do on Masada? They were going to meet certain death and/or slavery the following morning by the Roman army.
    Was it euthanasia, suicide, or murder? Or was it a calculated military move during a time of war?
    I would put forth, that in any situation, it all depends on the intentions of one’s heart, – which can, at times, stear you in the wrong direction – which is another reason for having Church Doctrine. But, despite Church Doctrine, the intent of one’s heart might prevail.

  23. E
    August 12, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Karen William, I am guessing that you have never seen “first hand the horrible suffering some endure while they are dying”, because I haven’t, and I am a physician who has cared for many dying patients. I am having a hard time conceiving of a situation where pain is not treatable and controllable. I think this is largely a myth propagated by people who want to legalize euthanasia, that the options are eithanasia or horrible pain and suffering. This is just not true. It may take a large load of narcotics to control end-stage cancer pain, but it is doable. The problem I have seen is that these drugs are sedating and some people prefer to be awake. Euthanasia is pretty sedating too so it doesn’t solve that problem.

  24. August 12, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    brjones,

    Why will no one address the doctrinal issues at hand here?

    As a believing member of the church with a heterodox view on the topic of euthanasia, the reason I am not troubled by the “doctrinal” issues you are bringing up is that I don’t accept your premises. All of your arguments about enduring to the end through God-inflicted trials assumes that the suffering of terminally ill people is ordained by God. I don’t accept that premise. I don’t think trials in general are given by God. We do all sorts of things to make ourselves more comfortable and reduce pain which would, by your logic, be thwarting God’s purpose of trying us. I take pain medication when I break my arm and I use anesthesia at the dentist. By your logic this is negating the purpose of my probation and blocking my spiritual growth, but that logic strikes me as utterly unpersuasive. If I endure until my lethal injection, how is that not enduring until “the end”?

    You said: How about not committing murder, including suicide? To which I ask in reply, where does it say anything about suicide in the ten commandments. Just because you include suicide in murder doesn’t mean they are the same thing. In my mind they are manifestly and dramatically different from a moral perspective. Furthermore, despite the injunction again murder, there are several cases where it is considered morally permissible by the church to kill another person. You provide me no reason to suppose that suicide is not permissible in certain circumstances. Pointing to the ten commandments and saying “what about murder?” seems to me to miss the complexity of the moral issue here.

  25. sxark
    August 12, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Jacob J

    Your basically right. Go to the LDS official site, type in [suicide] in the search engine, then click “Suicide: Some things we know, and some we do not” by Elder M. Russell Ballard.

  26. MH
    August 12, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    I have to agree with Jacob J–my views here are heterodox as well. While I understand brjones point, I don’t agree with the premises either.

    As a proponent of euthanasia and assisted suicide, I think that it is actually a compassionate thing to do. I don’t believe God wants us to suffer indefinitely. While there is something to be said for enduring to the end, I think endless suffering is pointless. At some point, the test needs to end, not go on and on like Terry Shiavo. Perhaps she wasn’t feeling pain, but are you trying to tell me Terri was capable of learning from her mortal probation? 18 years in a persistent vegetative state seems like a pointless exercise in enduring to the end.

    I mentioned this on FD’s blog, but I want to mention it again. It is only within the last 100 years that western society has deemed assisted suicide as a moral problem. In the sixteenth century, catholic priest Thomas More, described a Utopian community that would facilitate the death of those whose lives had become burdensome as a result of ‘torturing and lingering pain’. But it has only been in the last hundred years that there have been concerted efforts to make legal provision for voluntary euthanasia.

    The ancient Greeks and Romans did not believe that life needed to be preserved at any cost and were, in consequence, tolerant of suicide in cases where no relief could be offered to the dying or, in the case of the Stoics and Epicureans, where a person no longer cared for his life.

    (see Stanford University for more info.)

  27. Jo
    August 12, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    As an educational psychologist, we are required to refer our girls to a “full options” counseling service, such as planned parenthood. We do not have a choice in our role in the schools. I was in discussion with someone who advised me to refer to LDS Social Services or the Bishop. I explained that the Bishop is not a professional and in my experience, did not even understand the concept of confidentiality,(He stated a “need to know” basis, determined by whoever he thinks needs to know) so I wouldn’t refer someone to him, for anything that required confidentiality.
    The abortion issue is complicated by the fact that very young girls are becoming pregnant and we are dealing with this issue now in elementary schools. Also, new medication, if taken within 48 hours of conception, allows a girl to prevent the embryo from implantation.
    I am against abortion, even if the baby is not expected to live long after birth, because miracles are possible. However, I have never made this decision for anyone as IMHO it is a very private concern.
    I am against anyone assisting in euthanasia, when there are other options to control pain, especially for people who are suffering depression. I do not condemn people who overdose to end their physical pain and hope those with emotional pain can receive help. I know my heart on a personal level, even if it does not comply with church doctrine. They are inconsistent regarding these issues and I would like to hear their reasoning from the church’s moral perspective.

  28. sxark
    August 13, 2009 at 1:34 am

    Jacob J. & MH:

    Would you agree, that those who speak in support of euthanasia and abortion, – should also be a willing participant in preforming these deeds? Can one really separate themselves from willing participants when they speak encouragement to preform the deed?
    However, if one becomes a willing participant in these deeds because of conscience, then it would be well for them to keep the following close to their hearts:
    Eccl.12: 13,14 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil”.

  29. August 13, 2009 at 2:20 am

    Jo, I’m not arguing that assisted suicide should even be an option for those in emotional pain. We’re talking terminal physically illness here. The person is dying anyways.

    Sxarx asked: “Would you agree, that those who speak in support of euthanasia and abortion, – should also be a willing participant in preforming these deeds?”

    You make a good point. Personally, having worked with people at the end stages of their lives, I can imagine doing it. Of course, I would never do it at the present time, since it’s not legal in the country where I live. As well, I wouldn’t have the authority to do it, as an assistant. But if it were a) legal, b) I had the medical authority, c) all the legal documents, last will and testament, etc, were in order, d) the patient was able to clearly state that this was his/her wish, then I can imagine probably taking part in an assisted suicide. I would assist the patient with the “set up” and, if at all possible, leave the final action up to the patient.

    Now, of course I’m being pretty hypothetical here. I’ve never witnessed an assisted suicide. Perhaps I would feel differently if I did. I don’t know. But I have heard patients say that they just wanted to die and there was one in particular I remember well who literally gasped for each shallow breath for a whole week straight before he finally died. Another one more recently whose cancer seemed to literally eat her up alive to the point where extremely foul-smelling blood gushed from her vagina and bowels. Honestly, it wasn’t unthinkable for me to be able to assist such people end their suffering if the provisions I stated above were in place.

    But I don’t think that everyone who supports euthanasia necessarily needs to be able to perform the deed. Many have their hearts in the right place and can support a person’s wishes, but don’t have the stomach for such things. My husband, for instance, feels much the same way as I do about euthanasia, but he loathes the hospital and nursing home setting. Everytime he stops by my workplace, I can tell he’s dying to get out as fast as possible. 🙂 So I’m not sure you could convince him to be a “willing participant.”

  30. sxark
    August 13, 2009 at 7:47 am

    FD:

    What are your thoughts on #22?
    I think your most important point was [d] – “the patient was able to clearly state that this was their wish”.
    The razor gets sharper when a close friend or relative approaches you, in confidence, and asks you to assist them in ending their life.[as in #22] Just you and your friend know all of the circumstances. The friend’s family must never know.

  31. Tom Haws
    August 13, 2009 at 10:09 am

    As a Consistent Lifer, I would say that, yes, the position of the church is inconsistent in that the opening two sentences of the two statements are not parallel. If revised to read as below, the core statements would begin consistently:

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sanctity of human life, and is therefore opposed to euthanasia.”

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sanctity of human life, and is therefore opposed to elective abortion.”

  32. brjones
    August 13, 2009 at 10:18 am

    #24, 26 – First of all let me state that I have absolutely no problem with Euthanasia. I don’t think it’s wrong or evil, and I don’t think anyone who would assist in someone else ending their life in those circumstances has anything to apologize for. What we’re talking about is the position of the church here, and I am, as usual, baffled, that those who purport to adhere to church teachings are blogging about how the church’s official position on an issue is wrong (I am assuming you are both believing members; if not I apologize). And your comments on suicide are a red herring. If you read Elder Ballard’s talk on suicide you will see that what he is saying is that although suicide is absolutely wrong, we can’t judge people who have done it because their mental state may have been such that they will not be responsible for their actions. Well that goes for any sin. If someone’s menatal capacity is sufficiently affected or diminished for whatever reason, then they may also not be responsible for a murder they committed. This in no way has any bearing on whether or not murder is wrong. LDS.org says “Although it is wrong to take one’s own life, a person who commits suicide may not be responsible for his or her acts.” There is no ambiguity in that statement – suicide is wrong. I think it is a falsehood to say that the church’s position on suicide is unclear or ambiguous. It is absolutely wrong according to the church. The only issue is the mental state of the person who committed it. Generally speaking, that is not what we’re talking about when we discuss Euthanasia. We’re talking about whether it is permissible in god’s eyes for someone to make a conscious, informed choice to end their life to avoid suffering. Elder Ballard’s talk has little, if any, bearing on that issue. In any event, the church has made it perfectly clear that Euthanasia is wrong in god’s eyes, has it not?

  33. August 13, 2009 at 10:50 am

    brjones,

    Once again, you are approaching the issue from an entirely different direction than I do, which is why you are baffled as usual. As a believing member of the church, I do not create my opinions on complex moral issues by merely looking for quotes from church leaders, or even by automatically adopting any view officially put forth by the church. I consider such statements (to be sure), but when I consider them, I adjust the weight that I give them based on the arguments used to advance their position. If one of the leaders presented a revelation to the church on the topic then we could be talking about whether or not I accept the revelations God has given to the church. On this topic, there is no such revelation. What we have are good leaders reasoning from other principles and commandments to come to a position on a complex moral issue. It turns out that when I consider the same complex moral issue I come to a different conclusion, which I take to be my right. Believing in the church does not require me to be a robot who looks up quotes and accepts whatever they say. In fact, I think this is one of the main purposes of our probation you were talking about earlier, to face moral ambiguity and bravely hold positions in favor of those things that strike us as being right and good, even when unpopular.

    Your whole point about suicide misses the issue. It does little good in this debate to establish that suicide is morally wrong unless we can decide why it is wrong. I would contend that euthanasia is morally acceptable specifically because it is not similar to suicide in the ways that make suicide wrong.

    Again, your whole approach is to say that I as a believing member I must accept the church’s position as being God’s will, which I simply reject. If you move on from that oversimplified understanding of what it means to be a believing member, I think you’ll be less baffled by me.

  34. brjones
    August 13, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Jacob, I appreciate your response. I hope you don’t take my comment about being baffled as a personal attack or insult toward you. Personally, I think your logic is remarkably sound and I agree with it 100%. I would just disagree with you on the issue of whether the church expects you, as a believing member, to accept what is said by the church as from god. I think that’s exactly what the church expects. Obviously church leaders encourage members to be thoughtful and prayerful, but I have never in my life seen any general church leaders even intimate that an official church position was based on the reasoning of good men, as opposed to god’s will, or that members should decide for themselves whether or not it is true or correct. Again, I think you are right to consider it, and I do think it is your right as a rational human being. I think, though, that all the talk of the church being led on a day to day basis by the lord loses some of its efficacy if members are free to simply make their own decisions about what is right or wrong, especially when the church has already declared what is right or wrong.

    So my confusion has nothing whatsoever to do with your logic or conclusions, with which I happen to agree. It’s your conceptualization of how that process fits in with church pronouncements that is confusing to me. I think your approach is correct, but I don’t think it’s correct in the eyes of the church.

  35. August 13, 2009 at 11:10 am

    brjones,

    Thanks, I didn’t take your comment to be a personal attack at all. I appreciate our exchange since I think it is an important topic and enjoy discussing it. We definitely have a different idea about what the church expects. I would agree with you that there are some people in the church which expect from me exactly what you have described. On the other hand, I think there are plenty of members and leaders who expect and support me in behaving just the way that I do. In the highest councils of the church there is frequently disagreement and I have been led to believe that those in such councils are encouraged to stand by their beliefs even when they are unpopular. You said you have never in your life seen a general church leader intimate that an official church position was based on the reasoning of good men, but I think I could point you to several statements saying just that. David O McKay famously told Sterling McMurrin that the policy on blacks being denying the priesthood was a policy and not a doctrine and was supportive of McMurrin holding a dissenting view based on moral objections to the policy.

    But, even more important than any of that, I don’t care, ultimately, what the church expects of me. Ultimately, what I care about is what God expects of me. If the too seem to be in conflict, I merrily go on my way trying to do what God expects of me.

  36. August 13, 2009 at 11:11 am

    sxark,

    Would you agree, that those who speak in support of euthanasia and abortion, – should also be a willing participant in preforming these deeds?

    I guess you’d have to be more specific in saying that I should be willing from a moral perspective to participate. I reserve the right to not participate because of any other reason: because I don’t like to be around old people or women, because the sight of blood makes me faint, etc. Just as I speak in support of heart surgery despite being grossed out by watching such a surgery, I don’t think there is anything wrong with taking a moral stand on a topic despite unrelated objections. But, I agree that if I take the position that euthanasia is morally acceptable I should have no moral objections to participating myself.

  37. brjones
    August 13, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Thanks Jacob. Like I said, I think your reasoning is sound, and I think your placing your obligations to god over the church is appropriate. As it happens, I think there are many more people on this blog that agree than disagree with you, even among active members.

  38. August 13, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Sxarx, about #22, I wouldn’t do it without the clearly stated request from the person, and only then if it were legal. If I were in a war zone or an isolated location, however, I think I would look at things differently. If, for instance, I was somewhere remote and was travelling with someone who had just stepped on a landmine and was mangled and bleeding, begging me to put them out of their misery, with no one around to help, I’m not sure I wouldn’t do it. I’m sure soldiers in wars have faced similar situations. If your friend is begging you to put a bullet in his head to put him out of his misery because there is no medical personnel around to help, it would be hard not to oblige, I think.

    I was just thinking that I think it’s important to distinguish between “euthanasia” and “assisted suicide.” I realize I’ve been guilty of using the terms interchangeably, but the term “euthanasia” doesn’t necessarily make provisions for a desire to end one’s own life. It’s perhaps a bit ambiguous. I can feel terribly sorry for someone who is in pain and dying and desire to put them out of their misery by ending their life (euthanasia), but I would never do it without explicit consent and a clearly-stated desire. I can’t imagine taking their life without their consent simply because I feel sorry for them (euthanasia), but I would consider assisting them in their expressed desire to commit suicide (assisted suicide) and only then in a controlled, legal hospital setting with witnesses present, when they are suffering from a terminal illness.

  39. Jo
    August 13, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Faithful Dissident: Sxarx asked: “Would you agree, that those who speak in support of euthanasia and abortion, – should also be a willing participant in preforming these deeds?”
    I have provided end of life care as part of my rotations in nursing as a student and also with my mother, grandmother and cousin. I understand the anguish. However, chronic pain leads to depression and many people who are not in the final stages wish to end their life because they are depressed and because someone else is causing them worry about the cost of the care. Hospice care is available and I wouldn’t wish to encourage assisted suicide because of its potential for abuse. I haven’t been in a landmine situation, but would definitely give them enough morphine to kill the pain and that can cause an overdose, if enough is given. I wish I was confident in how I would respond. The “support” some speak of regarding abortion is not what I do, and I chose not to go into that field of counseling, even though I have been asked to work summers at Planned Parenthood clinics, because of my work with school meetings I facilitated in the area. I can only handle so much sadness in my work. I would like to see better options for girls who find themselves pregnant. Germany has a wonderful policy for mothers who wish to care for their children.

  40. brjones
    August 13, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    I would absolutely be willing to kill someone if death was certain to be a better alternative to what was inevitable suffering. The problem is determining what qualifies as such a situation.

  41. sxark
    August 13, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    To all:

    My purpose for suggesting that those who offer encouragement to perform the deed should also consider being willing participants in doing the deed, was to show that one should have a “healthy Fear of God”, before going ahead with this.
    For, you are now assisting one, – on the way to meet their Maker. – Which may be against church policy to do so. – so the intent of one’s heart, appears to me, to be a very important state of mind when engageing in such an action.
    And for those who proclaim that they have a “heterodox” viewpoint about these issues, just sounds to me, that their “Fear of God”, is somewhat lessoned. But maybe I’m wrong and I apologise.

  42. MH
    August 13, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Jacob, I think you and I have nearly identical positions, and I think you explained “our” position extremely well. Brjones in 40–you have identified the true conundrum–“The problem is determining what qualifies as such a situation.”

    Sxark, while I agree with FD’s hypothetical example (and I doubt that morphine is available to every soldier who steps on a landmine–especially in fatal quantities), I have watched a sister die from cancer. I hated to see her suffer, and hated to see her die. But if I felt her suffering was pointless, and if she asked me to help her end the pain, I think I would help her. I have a brother who was killed instantly in a car accident. I miss him dearly. However, I have played a scenario in my mind to imagine if he was still alive but was so mentally impaired that he was like Terri Shiavo (who was also injured in an accident.) My brother would not like to live like Terri for 18 years in a persistent vegetative state, and I think I would help him end his life. I do not think God would condemn me in either situation.

    I know many people support capital punishment, but few would volunteer to be members of the firing squad or would pull the switch on the electric chair. Are you saying this is a prerequisite to support a position? As someone who seems against euthanasia, are you for capital punishment? If so, would you administer the fatal dose?

  43. sxark
    August 13, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    MH:

    I thought I explained my position fairly well in #41.
    #22 splits hairs and takes the arguement further. The policeman discovers that he has inoperable cancer and wants to die violently, in the line of duty, so that his family is provided with a $500,000 insurance payout instead of a $30,000 payout.
    He comes to you, his best friend and partner, and discusses what he wants done. His family is never to know the real circumstances of his death, or that he has inoperable cancer.
    In this type of relationship, one does not quible about the law. This is loyalty between friends, that one does for another for free.
    Should one be confronted in such a situation, I would say, – that it would be well with them if they had a “healthy Fear of God” before proceeding.
    The mass murder and suicide at Masada presents different circumstances with the same outcome as euthanasia and abortion. – Everyone is sent to their Maker.
    How does anyone proceed, either by advocation or actual participation, in an action that is against Church Law? I would say – very carefully.

  44. Jo
    August 14, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Sxark: Re: How does anyone proceed, either by advocation or actual participation, in an action that is against Church Law? Good question.
    Does advocation in any action that is against Church Law assuem that the Church Law is correct in all situations. What about areas where the Church Law allows people with little training wide discretion and also does not oversee those members actions?
    The procedure manual encourages people to refer members to their Bishops, if they believe there is a concern.
    If we, as members, already know that our bishop holds no certification of training in the area, and does not honor confidentiality, and that the girl’s parents will act harshly with her (prior CPS reports), which would make it more likely that she would choose to abort, and that she was within the first 48 hours of possible conception so she would be able to take a pill to prevent plantation of the embryo. How would you proceed, if you were not a counselor, just a regular person who was aware of the dynamics of the situation? Also, let us suppose the child was 14, which is an age where public agencies allow a child to make medical decisions regarding themselves, in many states.
    If a member does not agree with state or federal law, do they stop paying taxes as our taxes support agencies that provide various options for children’s medical care?

  45. geb
    August 15, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Many of the Oregon patients who choose to end their life are not doing so because of the pain. Some diseases such as ALS are not painful, but the total loss of autonomy and the dependence on others are intolerable for some people. For many people, there are worse fates than dying. I think they have a right to do so, regardless of what we may consider sinful.

  46. sxark
    August 15, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Jo:

    Before jumping on Bishops, we should look at Church law to see how Bishops are chosen and what their mandate is, after they are chosen. If one is LDS and works in a social service type agency, the issue of Bishops, quite often starts a firestorm in the workplace, that does [at times] challenge one’s testimony.
    Jo, you did not mention what the ultimate result was, concerning the Bishop’s past actions.
    The Bishop is the only person sanctioned to judge a member of his ward. Do Bishops make mistakes in judgement? – if so, according to whose frame of reference of reality, did the Bishop make a mistake in judgement?
    Sorry, I don’t have documentation for any of this, so please trust me.
    The President of the LDS Church is the only person sanctioned to judge a Bishop.
    What would be the ramification on you, if you did not follow your procedure manual because of your opinions concerning this Bishop?
    The Bishop is the judge, and if he erred because [in someone’s opinion], he did not honor confidentiality, then that certainly should be brought to his attention, by you, when discussing this or other similar cases that the procedure manual encourages the Bishop’s involvement.
    And I still suggest that this all be done – very carefully.

  47. sxark
    August 15, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Jo;

    I just read your #27 and it seems to conflict somewhat with your #44. I think you put way too much emphasis on “certified training” when it comes to counseling. My background is in Social Work and I have seen far too many Social Workers, who spend alot of their time walking 2 or 3 ft. above the ground and think they know way too much more than those who have not the “training” they have.
    Do you remember the statistic that says: 7 out of 10 will do fine and survive without social service intervention, but we don’t know who the 3 are, that may not survive, so we have to deal with the 10, in order to make sure we get the 3.
    Sorry, went off on a tangient here a bit.

  48. Jo
    August 16, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I have been on vacation for a few days, so I apologize for the delay.
    Bro Jones (#32) regarding: “First of all let me state that I have absolutely no problem with Euthanasia.” I have a problem with what occurs when euthanasia is allowed in a state, e.g. Oregon. There is a current discussion in the U.S. public sector about our proposed health care plan bill. The example that comes to mind when discussing the decisionmaking panels that will determine our health care is the woman from Oregon who requested chemotherapy and was denied by her insurance (high cost of treatment), however her Euthanasia would be covered. When euthanasia is promoted as a less expensive option to a medical treatment, it should not be encouraged.
    SXark (#47) certified training and certification is important because of accountability. Bishops are accountable to their Stake Presidents, however there is not a due process system or set of rights for individual members. If I, as a psychologist/counselor, abuse my authority, I can risk losing my job, my certification and be subject to civil and criminal action.
    Our Stake Presidents and Bishops do not have training or accountability, so they are able to elaborate their callings and actions in any way that they choose. If a concern arises, they are not required to address it. They do not need to understand or honor confidentiality (my bishop thought it meant telling anyone he thought needed to know). They can take retalitory action against members, if they wish, informally or formally, and we have experienced retaliation.
    I discussed the particulars of my husbands and my situation in the thread “The only Power to Punish the Church has Ever Had” on Mormon Matters. I don’t wish to bore you with the details.
    I followed up for 1 1/2 years, as I could, with the Bishop and the final response from him was to send a home visitor to our house to tell us, “It never happened.” This elderly man was not a part of any meeting or decision, so his arriving at our house to bear false witness to an event that he was not a witness, just demonstrated the lack of skills and training in our ward, and the sense of entitlement to unrighteous dominion that some of our leaders have demonstrated. The GA for our area does not clarify or address Church policy or intervene in situations of unrighteous dominion unless a concern is filed by the SP. Our SP has a stroke and IMO was not able to even naviate through a meeting and follow the conversation with us. It was sad, as he had the authority to address the situation, but not the cognitive ability to do his job, due I think to his medical condition. The other option is that the priesthood is such a “good ol’ boys club” that they just do what they want. That is the only explanation I can come up with for my being disallowed to pay tithing under my name. I resolved that situation by not contributing until tithing and fast Sunday contributions are recorded under my own name, as requested. If they treat my contributions as if they are coming from someone else, they no longer receive my contributions. That is the only control I had left, after multiple requests and complaints. Their answer was, “We don’t do it that way.” My response was, I don’t do it their way and to ask for specific change and volunteer to do trainings for them in an area for which I have expertise and have teaching experience.
    I want to stay on point of our discussion, so back to your question on the procedure manual, I don’t have one for the church as it is only given to the priesthood holders, and not published for access by individual members. This is another difference between certified people and priesthood members, as Counselor/psychologist ethics are published and available for review by the public and procedural rights booklets are handed out at every meeting that I facilitate in the public schools. In the LDS Church, the manual is not available, there are no member rights and procedural rights to due process, and the leaders are not certified or accountable to anyone but someone in their “good ol’ boys” group. The last question is one that my husband asked me, “Why would you want to belong to a church that treats you like a second class citizen?”
    I would not attend a church that I found to be racist, so why would I attend and support a church that is sexist and takes unrigteous dominion over people, without accountability?
    It is the risk of the individual members being abused and oppressed that I see as a primary concern in both situations, euthanasia and LDS Church practices.
    Euthanasia seems like a good idea, in a few situations, but the risk of its abuse is so great, that we should not publically support euthanasia, because it will be abused. The state of Oregon has demonstrated that proof. How do you think those groups who are typically oppressed fare under a system of publically supported and promoted euthanasia?

  49. sxark
    August 16, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Jo:

    I prepared a really long response that addressed every little and large concern you have raised. But, after reflection, it appears to me that your concerns over your Bishop is over a personal problem, rather than a problem of a person you may have been advocating for.
    So, why should I do all the work, writing “half a book” refuting and showing the whole world where your mistakes are, when you can simply do what I did:
    Go to the official LDS site and use the search engine.
    However, my motivation and goals for using the search engine may differ from yours. If that is so, then it will probably take you longer to find the answers, than I did.
    As for your last question: – I feel that it is more important, than ever, to have an official Church stance on euthanasia because I think you are correct in this, – that the state and public will basically ,eventually, run amok and abuse will abound, without some sort of ethical considerations. And I prefer that those ethical considerations come from the Church, rather than, the state.

  50. Jo
    August 16, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    A checks and balance system is needed in every organization that holds power over people. What you described as a “personal problem” was not a problem with a personality, but with a system that does not have procedural guidelines, individual rights or an oversight system. We have developed that in the public education system and that part of my job description, to facilitate those meetings and help resolve concerns.
    If it were a “personality difference” it would be with one person, not several. It is a procedural and policy difference, meaning they don’t have one as that would also require individual rights for members, which we do not have in the LDS Church. Our priesthood leaders are not trained clergy and nothing happens when they take unrighteous dominion over others. I understand that you think that power without accountability in medicine would “eventually, run amok and abuse will abound, without some sort of ethical considerations”. What you may not recognize is that power without accountability within the church has the same result.
    We do agree that the power that comes with euthanasia is too open to abuse.

  51. sxark
    August 16, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Jo:

    You appear to describe the LDS system in the absolute sense – as if it were fact.
    But I see your analysis as a slice of swiss cheese, with plenty of holes.
    I’ll take the risk and hope that you have not written your opinions in stone and recommend that you go to the LDS search engine and search “Bishops”. Please read #2 “The Shepards of Israel” and #34 Q&A Sept. 1978. Both contain info on Confidentiality and “other” issues, that you may find of interest.

  52. sxark
    August 17, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    The Faithful Dissident:

    “Why is the baby not obligated to be carried to term… and endure a natural death like the cancer patient?
    One possible answer is that it is a “gift from Heaven”, that places less stress on the mother and gives her a choice and not a mandate that may cause her more stress.

    To All:

    After doing more reading, in the last few days, I feel I may be on really “thin ice” by suggesting that one will be judged according to the intent of one’s heart, were they to proceed with an action that is against Church policy.
    Although the intent of my heart may be “really rosy”, I just cannot come up with a good answer, were I to face our Maker and He were to ask why I proceeded with this action, since I now know and understand that the Church policy was either created, thru revelation, or approved by the Priesthood of the ruling body of the Church.

    Pain and suffering is a relative concept.
    Personally, I’m a “screamer” and I sound like I’m hooked up to a pain enhancement machine instead of a pain relieving machine. I had a heart attack once. It was a slow one and I did alot of howling and screaming in the emergency room. I noticed that my actions caused alot of anguish for those around me and I did apologize for acting like such a wimp. They, in turn, apologized for jumping on me and pounding my chest, real hard, before putting the pads on. None of which, I remember.
    I just know that I’ll have to work on my “screamer” attitude and make a cognitive effort to tune it down were I to become a cancer patient. I wouldn’t want to influence someone to do something that they may have to answer for, when they meet their Maker.

  53. Jo
    August 18, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    #52 sxark:
    I’m taking an educational assessment approach because I am an educational psychologist. Here are the main components of my approach:
    1. Intentionality: Goal and purpose – Example: To ask the church for change, to “do better”, highlight where there are concerns and provide an approach and expertise and assistance to address those actions that will improve the church. That is also what many of us are doing here, as it is part of the purpose of our interactions.
    2. Clarify and find meaning, stating why a concept is important and how it relates to member’s personal experiences.
    3. Transcendence: Develop metacognitive skills by asking and discussing “who, what, when, where, why and what-if. That involves questions, brainstorming and joining in the problem solving activity.
    You provided some counterpoints that were dismissive: “personality difference” and tried to clarify basic concepts, which was a good effort.
    If you join in the conversation from that approach, we can all learn something. I liked your willingness to provide a personal example to which we can relate. You state your facts and experience and we state ours.
    Through that process, we find a way of thinking about a concept, situation or process from many points of view. It works in education and it works here.

  54. sxark
    August 18, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Jo:

    I never suggested that your “personal” problem with your Bishop was a “personality difference”. It’s just that the way you described it in #48, sounded like a “personal problem” to me.

    So what other “counterpoints that were dismissive” did I bring up?
    You brought up the “procedure manual” in #44, as if it was a manual from your workplace and you appeared to be completely dismissive in #48 concerning this “manual”.

    I do not agree with your analysis that the Holy Priesthood of the Church is a group of “good ol’ boys” and that you know so much more than they do. Are you saying that your more qualified, to write Church Law, than the “good ol’ boys” group?

    A critical mistake we all make, is when we start using “worldly” standards of analysis, based on our frames of reference of reality when receiving or giving counsel to Church Authorities. For we end up missing the essence of a great many things ,to the point, where we become “dismissive” of the authority of Bishops and their “need to know” because they don’t meet the “worldly” standards, as one “of the world” defines them.

    The LDS Church is full of Leaders who appreciate and converse using big fancy words and I don’t believe they would turn down intelligent written requests, written in the proper spirit, requesting clarification or recommendations for a change.

    “Written or spoken in the proper spirit” – is the key.

  55. sxark
    August 18, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    Doesn’t #52 give a plausible answer to the main question of this thread – of why there is a conflict in Church law concerning euthanasia and abortion?

  56. Jo
    August 19, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Sxark:
    I’m the wrong gender to be able to have a “manual”, but have consulted priesthood holders in my extended family regarding the manual. The priesthood holders are the elite group, and Church leaders are male in the priesthood.
    The RS is an auxillary group which is separate but not equal. Bishops do not have to honor common ethics, because they are not credentialed, are not accountable to an oversight committee and are not specifically trained and do not allow members individual rights and are not mandated to follow a designated procedure. They operate in a charismatic fashion which results in unrighteous dominion and oppression for some members of the Church. The GA for ethics (Northwest) stated to me that he does not clarify or communicate with members, as he is there to answer concerns from the stake president only.
    I’m going to touch back on the topic of decisionmaking and euthanasia. Euthanasia is an area that I would not wish have decided by someone who is watching expenses for an organization or a person, or even someone who was biased and valued men far more than women. It is too open to abuse. So if we are all God’s children and should be granted equal dignity and respect, we need to value each individual as competent and deserving of life, regardless of age, color, gender, cultural background or socio-economic status.
    I feel like I’m trying to explain why racism is not a good idea. Simply stated, Sxark, sexism is not a good idea and IMHO, neither is euthanasia.

  57. sxark
    August 19, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Jo:

    In #47, I mentioned that my background is in Social Work, but neglected to add, that I had a double major: Psychology and Social Work.
    There was a definition, as to the difference between these two that floated around campus at the time:

    “The Psychologist, looks at a person and will tell you what is ‘wrong’ with them and will write up a program plan to eliminate any and all factors that may cause this ‘wrong’ behavior.
    The Social Worker, looks at a person and will tell what is ‘right’ with them and will write up a program plan to reinforce any and all factors that may increase this ‘right’ behavior”.

    We used to drive the Psychs up the wall with that one. But quite often, I have found, that both disciplines concentrate too much on what is “wrong” with someone instead of looking at what is “right” about them.

    I hope your testimony was not affected by your “experience”. I feel, more than ever, that the official statement of the Church should be adhered to. [see#52] And I see no conflict between the Church statements on Abortion and Euthanasia. [#52]

  58. Jo
    August 19, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Sxark:
    I was hoping to see you discuss the ethics topic without attacking the messenger.

  59. sxark
    August 19, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Jo:

    I feel more comfortable about my position on the ethics topic as described in #52 and #57.
    I see your position, as being just unconfortable about state control and how this might be abused. But I don’t recall your position as to whether you would, yourself, participate in this action. You don’t say whether you accept Church law or not, in regards to this issue.
    But I gather, from what you have said about Church leaders that you would not place much creedance in the Church law, that was approved by them, therefore, you would have less of a problem violating this law yourself.
    Whereas, I don’t feel confortable about violating this Church law.

  60. Jo
    August 19, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    Szark: As a social worker, you might be interested in the following concept:
    The difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can do with help (zone of proximal development). It is a concept developed by the Belarusian psychologist and social constructivist Lev Vygotsky. That may explain why it has been challenging for you to discuss this without projecting attributes.
    I would not participate in euthanasia, although I would and have provided medical care and pain management for dying patients as an EMT and paramedic in the military service of my country. I think Church law needs work and can be improved as it is inconsistent in its policy of sanctity of life regarding the death penalty and euthanasia. Since they operate in a sexist and heirarchial manner, I would not wish to empower any male in the church to make an ethics decision regarding women as their bias may impact their decisionmaking. The lesser value of the oppressed group, may result in promotion of euthanasia as the encouraged option when another, more expensive or more difficult treatment is available. The marginalized value of women in our church is what I would like to see changed for many reasons, including the ethical concept of equal promise, worth and respect.

  61. sxark
    August 19, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Jo:

    “…and the highest Priesthood ordinance in mortality is given only to man and woman [husband & wife] together”.
    Elder Boyd K. Packer, ‘For Time and all Eternity’, Ensign Nov. 1993

    The condescending water balloons, that you choose to throw at me, are missing their mark and are coming back at you.

    With your attitude it probably matters little, to those who make Church law, what you think Church law should or not do.

    However, “Each of you has an eternal calling from which no Church officer has authority to release you…this most important stewardship is the glorious responsibility your Father in Heaven has given you, – to watch over and care for your own soul.” Elder Joseph B. Wirthin, ‘Truth to the Truth’ Ensign May 1997

    You want to do things on your own? Go ahead, the Church has plenty of critics – except the Church does feel pain when a member turns against it.

  62. Jo
    August 20, 2009 at 7:34 am

    It is sad that when you have trouble with the facts, such as understanding that there is a strong preference for men in leadership roles of the church, you drop to a personal attack. I am a constructive critic for the church and have offered training, specifically, “What is confidentiality and why that is important in the Church.” I taught this as part of a psychology course at college level. When leaders in the Church do not have training, know the ethics required or respect all members in their congregation, they bring harm to both the members and the Church. Szark, you need to understand that the view from the back of the Alabama (Church) bus is different. The effect that marginalizing an entire group by gender, similar to marginalizing them by race, is detrimental to the Church. Your statement would be akin to calling someone unpatriotic because they objected to Jim Crow laws. Your intentionality appears to be to support the status quo and not ask the Church to “do better”. My intentionality is to ask the Church to “do better” and be in the conversation that may provide the why, where, how, when and what if. That is part of learning. In my lifetime, the Church transformed enough to stop being racist. I am asking them to stop being sexist, provide members with individual rights, a due process approach for best practices in their procedures and an oversight committee made up of more than just males to ensure accountability. We do this daily in my work in the public schools and it works. It is not that challenging to do, and provides, equal treatment, fairness and justice to all students. I understand why male leaders do not wish to share power or responsibility with women. It is the same reason that the Alabama bus company did not hire women or minorities to be bus drivers in 1954. The bias and mindset toward women is strong. Believe me, men would still enjoy their preferred status, even if women were someday allowed to be called as leaders in the Church. The marginalization of women in many parts of our society makes it difficult to trust that they will be treated fairly in life and death situations, as they are not considered the elite group in our society or in our Church. RS is a separate but unequal auxillary group.
    As you demonstrated, women in the Church who ask for ethical treatment are told, “take it or leave it.”

  63. sxark
    August 20, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Jo:

    “take it or leave it?” – not quite.
    I gather that you did not take my advice in #51, for if you did and read those 2 articles carefully, you would understand that your services, which Bishops are encouraged to use, are to be “avoided”.
    Therefore, all this training, counseling, and the things you have spent years learning, are no longer considered of value, should your Ward or Stake be in need of such service. They will, simply, go to someone else who has the same qualifications as you, but not the same attitude as you.
    From where I sit, its only because of your observed attitude on this thread, that one can infer, was carried into your Bishop’s office as well as your Stake Presidents office that got you in trouble. Unless there is something more, like a felony conviction etc.
    Your negative attitude toward the Priesthood, alone, essentially disqualifies you for consideration to help and assist the Bishop, should he feel a need for help.
    What a sad state of affairs. – unless you don’t care.
    I feel I’m right in #54. Writing or speaking in the proper spirit is the “key” What’s the problem? Too much pride?
    If your still going to Church, this negative attitude could spread, creating a “cancer” in the Ward and you could loose friends, – who may tire of hearing of your opinions of the Priesthood.
    “Pride goeth before the fall”
    I know my words are harsh and condescending, – but so what? From where I sit, only your soul is at stake.
    You write good and have some great suggestions, but some stink! Its up to you to determine what’s good and what is not.

    My opinion in #57 on the question of this thread, still stands.
    What’s yours.

  64. Jo
    August 23, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Back to the subject of euthanasia and my point made in #48 that the process of Euthanasia would eventually be abused.
    This is an excerpt from The Seattle Times regarding the VA pamphlet for Veterans. The survey questions are supposed to help Veterans determine their end of life care choices.
    From the “Your Life, Your Choices’ document and for the most part it seems like a typical document discussing Healthcare proxies etc. The things that are discussed with elderly parents or even husbands and wives in planning their futures; however, there is a check list in the middle of the document that specifically asks questions about “What makes your life worth living?”. It is a checklist that doesn’t just include needing a feeding tube or being on permanent life support, the questions are absolutely, in my opinion, insane. These questions are being asked to all Veterans receiving treatment, including 20 year olds who have been severely wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. I have listed all of the questions below so you can see for yourself:

    a. I can no longer walk but get around in a wheelchair.
    b. I can no longer get outside—I spend all day at home.
    c. I can no longer contribute to my family’s well being.
    d. I am in severe pain most of the time.
    e. I have severe discomfort most of the time (such as nausea, diarrhea, or shortness of breath).
    f. I rely on a feeding tube to keep me alive.
    g. I rely on a kidney dialysis machine to keep me alive.
    h. I rely on a breathing machine to keep me alive.
    i. I need someone to help take care of me all of time.
    j. I can no longer control my bladder.
    k. I can no longer control my bowels.
    l. I live in a nursing home.
    m. I can no longer think clearly-I am confused all the time.
    n. I can no longer recognize family/friends
    o. I can no longer talk and be understood by others.
    p. My situation causes severe emotional burden for my family (such as feeling worried or stressed all the time).
    q. I am a severe financial burden on my family.
    r. I cannot seem to “shake the blues.”

    These questions are followed by the questions below:

    “If you checked “worth living, but just barely” for more than one factor, would a combination of these factors make your life “not worth living?” If so, which factors.
    If they checked “not worth living,” does this mean that you would rather die than be kept alive?

    Veterans who have just risked their lives to keep America safe from terrorists? What kind of person would ask a 20 year old quadriplegic if they would rather die than be in a wheelchair or a burden to his/her family or if they have the blues? Of course they would have the blues in this case and of course no one wants to be in a wheelchair and of course no one wants to be a burden on their family…I understand the ‘Do not resuscitate’ questions and the ‘brain dead’ type questions but as you can see above the majority of the questions are not pointing to those scenarios.”
    The bias included in this survey would discourage a Veteran as seeing himself as not worthy of living, not useful and a financial and emotional burden on his family and society and could lead to further depression or suicidal ideation.
    The VA has promised to review this document.

  65. John
    August 24, 2009 at 1:30 am

    I am neither a philosopher nor an ethicist. I am a male priesthood holder in good standing with the church. I am also a physician in the military. I’m generally a liberal, politically speaking. I don’t know why I’m sharing that portion of information because, based on the comment string that I’ve read, my comments will be interpreted and judged based solely on those first four sentences. I thought it might give you an idea of the philosophical framework that my opinions are based upon and also perhaps give me some authority based on personal experiences. Any academic discussion by church members evaluating the truthfulness of gospel topics based on pure logical discourse always reminds me of 2 Timothy 3: 1-12. I don’t, however, think that there is anything wrong in trying to analyze apparent contradictions in the church. I like the comment made by Joseph Smith regarding contradictions (paraphrasing): discovering how two apparently contradictory items of doctrine can both be true allows one to gain a fuller understanding of the truth.

    I have cared for MANY patients with diverse painful terminal illnesses. And, despite a previous comment by a FP, not all pain and suffering can be treated with narcotics. I myself have been recently diagnosed with an incurable chronic condition that will likely result in chronic pain and severe disability not amenable to narcotic pain relief. My opinion is that in general, God allows trials to befall his children without actually inflicting those trials directly, however, in some circumstances trials are blessed upon people directly by God. What has been missing from this discussion is how pain, suffering, and trials can actually be blessings that lead to growth and a closer relationship to our Father in Heaven. There IS intrinsic value in suffering. In the early stages of my own trial I have had experiences that have enriched my relationship with my Father in Heaven. I have seen MANY patients in severe discomfort, not all of them terminal. One thing that I’ve noticed is that the degree of pain or the amount of time predicted to be left in these peoples’ lives was not a predictor of their happiness. Most commonly, I would say that those who deepened their relationship with God and/or their family were more likely to endure with optimism and thankfulness.

    I can’t foresee that a fetus, if one assumes it is a complete soul that has passed through the vale, without any understanding of what is happening nor of the doctrine of the Church of God, gains any meaningful lesson from the pain and suffering whilst dieing after birth. I agree with other comments made above. A second person, the mother, is also affected by the terminally ill fetus. This fetus is pure and innocent and will automatically receive exaltation. The full church opinion regarding aborting a fetus not likely to survive is not stated above. The church strongly discourages abortion of those fetuses that may survive and recommends wating for the pregnancy to end naturally. Not as big of a contradiction as stated in the introduction.

    Before I learned of the official position, I was in favor of euthanasia and assisted suicide. Those who don’t understand their eternal identity nor the purpose of mortality may gain very little by prolonging their anguish. Even after learning of the doctrine, I accepted it as truth only after personal prayer and contemplation, followed by divine affirmation.

    Regarding the VA pamphlet, its function is also as a screening tool to identify Veterans with treatable psychologic disorders that may be affecting their thinking when making end of life choices. And the medical community believes that EVERYONE needs to have end of life plans because incapacitation can occurr quickly and unpredictably. I would recommend that anyone reading this blog make a living will.

  66. sxark
    August 24, 2009 at 2:57 am

    John:

    Thanks for sharing, it was very insightfull.
    However, if all LDS bloggers took II Tim. 3:1-12 to heart, there probably would not be sites like “Mormom Matters”.
    I came to my conclusion in #52 and feel confortable with it. That is, today, I feel confortable. Tomorrow is another day.

    A living will sounds reasonable and sensible. I don’t have one and when I was in the hospital, recently, someone came by to visit and ask some questions. One of which was a standard question I had heard before. Something like: Would I like “extra efforts” to bring me back to life, or keep me alive etc. When I answered “yes”, the person looked disapointed, which made me wonder, a little more, of how “sick” I really was.

    I still do not know how to answer that question and would feel unconfortable providing a living will with that question in it.

  67. A Woman Who Knows
    April 16, 2012 at 2:09 am

    The stress (physical and emotional) of carring to term what will be an unsuccessful pregnancy is not taking into account the welfare of the woman.  A healthy pregnacy is very hard on a healthy woman.  One that is not healthy is putting undue stress on the woman, as well as continuing can cause long-term harm (possible death)to her.

    Such matters are best left to those who are personally involved and not a matter to be handled in an “across the board” manner by others.

    So many decissions on matters of this nature are being made 1. by those not personally involved or who are not affected by the results of the decission and/or 2. by those who are not fully educated to the ramifications of those types of decissions…those who lack the specific knowledge to make an informed decission. 

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