Is Euthanizing Children Healthcare?

Our children remain under attack by society’s increasing immorality, the disintegration of bioethics that no longer upholds sanctity of life and the image of God as foundational underpinnings, and the confusion caused by biomedical technologies blurring the line between life and death. To be sure, abortion continues to be a paramount concern—at the writing of this post, more than 550,000 abortions have occurred in the U.S. this year.[1] This horrific practice has been discussed previously.[2-3] In addition, the sexualization of our children and youth continues to escalate daily.[4-5]

A new disturbing specter has arisen. Yesterday, the Washington Post published an article discussing the euthanasia of children.[6] Euthanasia is defined as the intentional act of ending a person’s life so as to relieve pain and suffering. Belgium legalized euthanasia of children in 2014, permitting doctors to terminate a child’s life at the request of the child.[7] Last year, they euthanized three children, ages 9, 11, and 17. Several countries have already legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide for adults. In the U.S., seven states and Washington, D.C. have legalized forms of assisted suicide. With the legal platform already present and providing a slippery slope, it is perhaps only a matter of time before these countries and states follow Belgium’s lead.

Most are familiar with Psalm 139:16a, which speaks to personhood in utero, and its application against abortion. However, Psalm 139:16b is equally important and speaks against euthanasia, stating:

And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me…

God is the author of life, both its beginning and end. Just as man cannot arbitrarily define when life and personhood begins, he cannot arbitrarily create a rubric defining when life ends. Scripture affirms the dignity of human life from “the womb to the tomb.” The Southern Baptist Convention has been clear with several resolutions against euthanasia and assisted suicide.[8-10]

I know firsthand that pain and suffering are real and can be complex problems. I worked in a comprehensive cancer center for 13 years, walked a journey of terminal Alzheimer’s with my mother and a journey of terminal mental illness with a sister, and experienced a wife and other family members with cancer. However, illness-induced pain and suffering call for compassionate treatment, not death. Palliative care and hospice are compassionate healthcare. Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are not healthcare.

Children are to be protected, not euthanized. Psalm 127:3 attests that “children are a gift of the Lord.” Children are made in the image of God and possess value and dignity. Dare we destroy a gift given by the Father of the fatherless? Jesus stated in Matthew 18:6:

…but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Euthanasia of children is more than causing a stumbling; it is killing them. What would Jesus say to that?