Should the Government Decide Who Deserves to Live?
The God of Heaven and Earth is also our Maker who determines our days (Job 14:5):
“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, ‘I, the Lord, am the maker of all things’” (Isaiah 44:24 NASB).
But unfortunately, life is under attack like never before. While outrage is certainly growing as a number of states pass laws to allow abortion in the third trimester—even up until the moment of birth—some states are beginning to contemplate ending life after birth.
In perhaps no case is this more evident than that of 11-month-old Tinslee Lewis who was born with a rare heart defect. At a Fort Worth hospital doctors planned on removing the life support systems for Tinslee on November 10, 2019. They were invoking the “10 day rule” which says the hospital’s ethics committee can over rule the family’s wishes for future treatment after 10 days if a new provider cannot be found for the patient.
As of the last report, after court orders and much public attention, Baby Tinslee is still being treated in the Fort Worth hospital.
Although Tinslee’s mother is fighting for her daughter’s right to live, the hospital is once again highlighting the international debate: If the only way to eliminate suffering is through death, is cutting life short worth it? Apparently the child’s physicians believe so—and are in a legal battle to prove it:
“While we believe every child's life is sacred, we also believe that no child should be sentenced to a life of pain. Removing this beautiful child from mechanical ventilation is a gut-wrenching decision for Cook Children's physicians and staff, however we feel it is in her best interest to free her from artificial, medical intervention and suffering.”
The UK’s National Health Service made a similar decision in the case of Charlie Gard—overriding his parents’ wishes to rule “it was in Charlie's best interest to remove him from life support to prevent him from suffering.”
After surviving five decades of quadriplegia, chronic pain, and two bouts with cancer, Joni Eareckson Tada begs to differ:
“Our broken and profit-driven health care system is already placing undue pressure on the medically fragile. There are constant calls to reduce heroic measures or late-life care in the name of cost containment. Some leaders in government are coercing these people to consider it their duty to die. In Oregon, California, Colorado, Montana, Vermont, Washington and Hawaii—states where doctor-assisted death is legal—euthanasia is positioned as an end-of-life treatment option...A healthy society will always balance personal rights against the common good, but government-sanctioned suicide unravels the compassionate cords of our nation’s character.”
Our founders were clear: God—not the government—endows each of us with “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” No hospital or court has a right to infringe on another’s rights.
John Adams understood this:
“People and nations are forged in the fires of adversity.”
As those who believe in the Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3), it is our responsibility to care for the vulnerable amongst us and fight for the life God has given each of us:
“Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray…” (James 5:13 NASB).
Lord, please bless and protect Tinslee—the child You formed and knit together in her mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).
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 McCammon, S. (2019, April 30). Abortion in the third trimester: A rare decision now in the political spotlight. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2019/04/30/718546468/opponents-fight-efforts-to-protect-late-term-abortion-rights  The Associated Press. (2020, January 4). Hospital ordered to keep 11-month-old in Texas on life support, appeals court says. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/appeals-court-grants-order-keep-texas-baby-life-support-n1110381  https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/fort-worth/article240692506.html  Holcombe, M. (2019, November 13). Judge orders a hospital to keep 9-month-old on life-support as her family searches for a solution. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/13/us/texas-infant-life-support-restraining-order/index.html  Bever, L. & Horton, A. (2017, July 17). Charlie Gard may have new hope: Hospital asks court to rehear case of terminally ill infant. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/07/06/american-hospital-offers-to-admit-charlie-gard-british-baby-at-center-of-life-support-controversy/  Tada, J. E. (2019, June 7). Joni Eareckson Tada: When is it right to die? Retrieved from https://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/june-2019/joni-eareckson-tada-when-is-it-right-to-die/  The declaration of independence. (1776, July 4). Retrieved from https://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/  John Adams, a remarkable political philosopher, served as the second President of the United States (1797-1801), after serving as the first Vice President under President George Washington. Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/john-adams/