Resolution Opposing Physician-Assisted Suicide – 2017 Winter Conference

The following resolution was passed by the members of the OBF on January 14, 2017:

On October 27, 1997 Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act became state law following a ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States in June 1997 that state bans on physician-assisted suicide were constitutional. The SCOTUS left the decision to state law. Since that time, 991 patients have died in Oregon by taking prescribed, life-ending drugs. Five additional states have legalized physician-assisted suicide: California, Colorado, Montana, Washington, and Vermont.[i]

Christianity Today reported in a December 6, 2016 article that two-thirds of the general populace believe physician-assisted suicide is morally acceptable, including over forty percent of professing evangelicals. Generationally, seventy-seven percent of those 18-24 agreed that, “When a person is facing a painful terminal disease, it is morally acceptable to ask for a physician’s aid in taking his or her own life” (LifeWay survey question).[ii]

Physician-assisted suicide differs from euthanasia by specifying parameters when a physician might prescribe lethal drugs. Also, euthanasia involves  the actual administration of lethal agents while physician-assisted suicide involves providing the agents and necessary information for self-administration. The AMA Code of Medical Ethics, chapter 5, sections 7 and 8, states that both euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are “incompatible with the physician’s role as a healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”[iii] Physician-assisted suicide must not be confused with the choice to withdraw artificial life-sustaining systems. Instead, it is the provision of an outside, lethal agent with the intent of self-murder.

Many  secular and religiously liberal groups argue against physician-assisted suicide on the basis that the physician becomes culpable for taking life. In some instances, these viewpoints will argue that suicide is a legitimate human right if another person does not facilitate the act. This argument ignores the ramifications of the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” and allows man to arbitrarily shape morality. Scripture allows the taking of life for judicial equity in murder cases, war, and self-defense.

Physician-assisted suicide contradicts  several Scriptural pylons. At its root, any immoral taking of life rejects God’s sovereignty as Creator. Because God gives  life, God alone chooses how and when life ends (Hebrews 9:27). Moreover, enabling a man to unjustifiably  end life undermines the doctrine of God’s providential control over all the affairs of men, including suffering. Physician-assisted suicide assumes that man knows what constitutes legitimate suffering and when that suffering is too much for another human being. This directly violates the full scope of the sixth command which “requires all lawful endeavors to preserve our own life and the life of others” (answer to question 74 of the Baptist Catechism of 1693). Proverbs 24:11-12 instructs wise people to rescue those heading to death and reminds the reader that God watches over the soul and will justly repay. Paul pleads with the Philippian jailer to refrain from taking his own life (Acts 16:28). Furthermore, God says “no one ever yet hated his own flesh” (Ephesians 5:29). As the image-bearer of God, God distinguished man from all other creatures and thereby decreed  the sanctity of human life. God alone chooses when and how man dies (including aforementioned instances of just causes).

Therefore, we, the members and delegates of the Ohio Bible Fellowship, meeting in our Winter Conference on January 13-14, 2017, at Fayette Bible Church in Washington Court House, Ohio, express our whole-hearted acceptance of the biblical teaching regarding the sanctity of human life and thus reject  physician-assisted suicide as unbiblical. We reject the assumption that man knows better than God when to end life and assert that God fulfills His purposes in times of intense suffering. We remain committed to ministering God’s truth to those suffering and desire to see them find eternal peace and comfort through faith in Jesus Christ. We will boldly proclaim the doctrines of Scripture upholding God’s authority over life and death.

[i] CNN article, “Physician-Assisted Suicide Fast Facts”: http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/26/us/physician-assisted-suicide-fast-facts/index.html

[ii] Christianity Today article: http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/december/opposition-to-assisted-suicide-dies-out-lifeway.html

[iii] AMA Code of Ethics, chapter 5: https://www.ama-assn.org/sites/default/files/media-browser/code-of-medical-ethics-chapter-5.pdf

Euthanasia.com – Excellent resource compiling numerous articles organized by a variety of groups (e.g., “Research,” “Physician articles,” etc.)