After nearly a lifetime of opposing assisted suicide, former Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu reconsidered his opinion on the matter a couple of years ago. And now, according to the most recent reports, the Nobel Peace laureate revealed this Thursday that he would like to consider assisted suicide as an option if need be.
Also, as Christian Post reveals, he urged other Christian leaders to support the option in order to help the terminally ill move on from this life with dignity.
In an op-ed that he penned for the Washington Post on the eve of his 85th birthday, Tutu wrote that as he moves closer to the time when he knows he will eventually die, he has become more convinced that people deserve just as much dignity in death as they expect in life.
Extracts from the write-up read:
"Just as I have argued firmly for compassion and fairness in life, I believe that terminally ill people should be treated with the same compassion and fairness when it comes to their deaths. Dying people should have the right to choose how and when they leave mother Earth. I believe that, alongside the wonderful palliative care that exists, their choices should include a dignified assisted death. Today, I myself am even closer to the departures hall than arrivals, so to speak, and my thoughts turn to how I would like to be treated when the time comes. Now more than ever, I feel compelled to lend my voice to this cause." He explained that people who are terminally ill are necessarily forced to endure terrible pain over the course of their last days, and that he would not want to go through something like that. "I believe in the sanctity of life. I know that we will all die and that death is a part of life. Terminally ill people have control over their lives, so why should they be refused control over their deaths? Why are so many instead forced to endure terrible pain and suffering against their wishes?" he questioned, and went on to add, "I have prepared for my death and have made it clear that I do not wish to be kept alive at all costs. I hope I am treated with compassion and allowed to pass on to the next phase of life's journey in the manner of my choice."
Currently, only a few states in the US, including Oregon and California, permit the policy of assisted suicide. According to Tutu, owing to these restrictions, thousands of people around the world are being denied the right to "die with dignity," and that this is an act that betrays true human compassion.
"In refusing dying people the right to die with dignity, we fail to demonstrate the compassion that lies at the heart of Christian values. I pray that politicians, lawmakers and religious leaders have the courage to support the choices terminally ill citizens make in departing mother Earth," he said.
"Regardless of what you might choose for yourself, why should you deny others the right to make this choice? For those suffering unbearably and coming to the end of their lives, merely knowing that an assisted death is open to them can provide immeasurable comfort. I welcome anyone who has the courage to say, as a Christian, that we should give dying people the right to leave this world with dignity."