Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide

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Is Assisted Suicide a compassionate means of ushering the terminally ill into the next life? Or is it simply a way of pressuring those we consider a burden to take their own lives?  This week on The Roys Report, I’ll be talking about this issue with Wesley Smith, one the world’s foremost critics of euthanasia. Also joining me will be Kimberly Kuo—who has a powerful story of how her husband’s battle with cancer transformed her thinking on this issue.  I really hope you can join us for The Roys Report, this Saturday morning at 11 on AM 1160 Hope for Your Life and on Sunday night at 7 on AM 560 The Answer!

This Weeks Guests
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Wesley J. Smith

…is among the world’s foremost critics of assisted suicide and utilitarian bioethics. In 2004 he was named by the National Journal as one of the nation’s top expert thinkers in bioengineering for his work in bioethics. In 2008, the Human Life Foundation named him a Great Defender of Life. And just a few weeks ago, he was named to Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network Board of Directors. His Human Exceptionalism blog, hosted by National Review Online, is one of the premier blogs dealing with human life and dignity. His latest book (2016) is the newly updated and revised edition of Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers of the modern bioethics movement. When first published it was named one of the Ten Outstanding Books of the Year and Best Health Book of the Year for 2001 (Independent Publisher Book Awards). Smith has published hundreds of articles and opinion columns nationally and internationally, including in Newsweek, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, the Weekly Standard, National Review, The Age (Australia), The Telegraph (United Kingdom), Western Journal of Medicine, and the American Journal of Bioethics. Throughout his career in public and consumer advocacy, Smith has appeared on thousands of television and radio programs including such national shows as ABC Nightline, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, CNN Anderson Cooper 360, CNN World Report, CBS Evening News, EWTN, C-SPAN, Fox News Network, as well as nationally syndicated radio programs, including Coast to Coast, Dennis Miller, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, and EWTN.

Kimberly Kuo

…has over 25 years experience as a Communications and Marketing professional in national politics, federal government, corporations and start-ups. Her experience in politics includes time as Press Secretary for Senate Majority Leader and then presidential candidate Bob Dole and vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp. She currently serves as Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Communications and Communities at Coca-Cola Consolidated. In addition to opinion pieces, she also writes music, poetry and children’s fiction. She loves writing for and teaching young kids at Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, N.C., and her greatest joy is adventuring with her two children.

Show Transcript

Note: This transcript has been edited slightly for continuity.

Segment 1

Welcome to The Roys Report, brought to you in part by Judson University.  I am Julie Roys.  And I’m so glad that you’ve joined me to talk about, what is admittedly a very sobering but important subject—euthanasia and assisted suicide.

So what do you think about euthanasia or assisted suicide?  Is this a humane way to usher those with terminal illnesses into the next life?  Or, is it simply a way to pressure those that we consider a burden to take their own life?

Over the past 25 years, the move to legalize assisted suicide has accelerated rapidly.  In 1997, Oregon became the first state to legalize euthanasia.  Today, eight states and the District of Columbia have joined Oregon’s ranks.  A ninth state will be added in September when a new law goes into effect in Maine. 

Over the years, nearly 1,500 people in Oregon have died from ingesting drugs legally prescribed by a doctor.  In the state of Washington, nearly 1,400 people have done the same. 

But that’s nothing compared to the numbers of people euthanized worldwide.  In the Netherlands, for example, where assisted suicide was first made legal, more than 6,000 people die by euthanasia and assisted suicide every single year.  And just about a month ago, a 17-year-old Dutch rape victim, who suffered from depression, starved herself to death after requesting euthanasia. It’s unclear if the doctors played any role in her death, though my guest today argues that it really doesn’t matter.  He writes: “A teenager, with a terrible psychiatric condition, was allowed to make herself dead instead of receiving continued and robust treatment efforts.  That’s abandonment as surely as providing a lethal injection.  This is where all assisted suicide or euthanasia legalization laws eventually lead.  Once a society accepts killing as an acceptable way to eliminate human suffering, there is no limit as to the categories of suffering that will eventually justify eliminating the sufferer.” 

Well, my guest today is Wesley J. Smith, one of the world’s foremost critics of assisted suicide and utilitarian bioethics. Wesley is an author and a senior fellow at The Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.  And his Human Exceptionalism blog, which is hosted by National Review Online, is one of the premier blogs dealing with human life and dignity. His latest book is the newly updated and revised edition of Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine.

So Wesley, welcome to The Roys Report.  I’m so glad you could join me.  

WESLEY J. SMITH:  Well, thank you for having me and hello to your listeners.

JULIE ROYS:  So Wesley, you know, let’s talk a little bit about this Dutch teenager who committed suicide.  By all accounts, she didn’t die by injection or prescribed drugs.  I think it is a little bit unclear. But can you explain more why you feel that her suicide is actually the result of sort of this culture of death that assisted suicide and euthanasia contributes to?  

WESLEY J. SMITH:  Well, absolutely. I call that an abetted suicide.  And this is what I mean.  Starving oneself to death is known in euthanasia parlance as VSED for Voluntary Stop Eating and Drinking. It is pushed by euthanasia and assisted suicide groups such as Compassion and Choices, which used to be more honestly named The Hemlock Society.  And in fact, in the Compassion and Choices, they promote aggressively and teach people how to do it for elderly people who may not qualify for legal assisted suicide in states where it’s legal, but are tired of life or just feel that their life is over and it’s time to move on.  So, what happened, is this teenage woman, a young woman, or late, you know, teenager, had been sexually molested when she was 11.  And had been gang raped by two men when she was 14.  Obviously, that caused a terrible upset in this poor thing, poor girl.  But she had actually managed to make something positive out of it.  She wrote a best-selling book, just as an example, to show the vitality of her life force, that tried to make something positive out of this awful experience, which she was suffering from depression, anorexia, PTSD and so forth.  And at the end, she asked for the mental health officials to provide her with electro-shock therapy, which can help in treating depression.  She was refused on the basis that she was too young. So she then decided I’m going to just starve myself to death, obviously having been told about this VSED situation. Now in VSED, people don’t just starve and dehydrate themselves to death, generally, without a doctor’s help because of the symptoms you would experience. If you don’t eat, the pain and don’t take water, the pain and suffering can be quite intense. So what often happens is that a doctor will palliate those symptoms – give you drugs to make, so that you don’t feel them so well that actually helps you then continue on with this suicide effort, which is suicide in slow motion.  What I suspect happened, and I don’t know, is that doctors in the Netherlands probably put her, may have, let’s put it, instead of probably, may have because there’s an investigation ongoing, may have put her into an artificial coma to allow her to complete this process of ten days dehydration.  That is something called “terminal sedation.”  And terminal sedation isn’t intended to just palliate symptoms. It is intended to make it so the person dies.  And it must be distinguished—I hate to be (inaudible) but we have to be nuanced—from what is known as palliative sedation.  In a situation where someone is actively dying and perhaps, they’re suffering from anxiety or the pain is difficult to control, doctors’ palliative experts can put patients into a sedated state that can actually be titrated up and down. The point of that isn’t to kill people. The point of that, is to make it so that they live as fully as possible considering their circumstances.  The point of terminal sedation isn’t when somebody’s dying but is to make them so that they don’t eat or drink. In fact, in the Netherlands, more people die by terminal sedation than die by active euthanasia.  To the point that in an article I wrote a couple of years ago, it seems that about 24% of all Dutch deaths, may be induced by doctors when you include euthanasia, assisted suicide, (euthanasia being lethal injection, assisted suicide being lethal prescription) terminal sedation and so forth.  So I think if we ever learn the full truth of what happened to this 17 year old girl, we will find that doctors were certainly a part of her suicide by self-starvation and dehydration.   

JULIE ROYS:  This is, I mean, I’m trying to wrap my head around this.  I mean, one, you have a girl who is 17 years old.  She’s not old enough to get the treatment that she so desires but she is old enough to be killed.

WESLEY J. SMITH:  Julie she’s not old enough to consent to a tattoo!

JULIE ROYS:  It’s just mind boggling to me.  And then you’re telling me that 24% of deaths may be caused, in the Netherlands, to doctors?  I mean that’s like a complete violation of the Hippocratic Oath, right, is to do no harm?

WESLEY J. SMITH:  Oh yeah, right, of course it is. But doctors don’t take the Hippocratic Oath anymore.  And again emphasizing, 24% isn’t the number of people lethally injected.  24% includes people who might be sedated so that they die over 2 weeks and this kind of thing.  And in fact, there have been stories out of the Netherlands, the reason that doctors are turning more frequently to terminal sedation, is under the euthanasia law of the Netherlands, the doctors actually have to be present when the patient is killed.  And that’s what they’re talking about, you know, euthanasia, you’re killing the patient—you’re giving them a lethal injection.  But in terminal sedation, the doctor doesn’t have to be present. And there have been stories out of the Netherlands about how anxiety-causing euthanasia is for the doctor, which one would expect and one would hope when you’re killing people that that would be something you’d never get used to. So, when you include all of the types of induced death that can exist and I’m speaking off the top of my head, but it was about 24%.  

JULIE ROYS:  Wow, wow.  And this is supposed to be, I mean, this is what the advocates of assisted suicide and euthanasia say, they say this is the compassionate alternative. And yet, we’re seeing this being used to really create a society, where if you’re not, you know, deemed worthy of living, then we can encourage you, you know, maybe pressure you, maybe just not offer you the help that you need. So that you just going to usher, you know, into that next life. Not very compassionate, Wesley. 

WESLEY J. SMITH:  Well, the Netherlands has always had a stunted hospice sector and palliative care sector because they’ve been allowing euthanasia since the 70’s. It was formally legalized in 2002 but before that, it was decriminalized so that if a doctor followed the supposed guidelines, that are intended to protect against abuse, they would not, and they reported it to the coroner, they would not be prosecuted. But I hope your listeners understand that these supposed guidelines, to protect against abuse, are just there to assuage people’s fears.  They’re really not designed to protect anyone.  For example . . .

JULIE ROYS:  One second, Wesley, we have to go to break so I hate to cut you off. But we’ll come back to it.  We just have to take a short break.  Again, Dr. Wesley Smith, a critic of assisted suicide and a senior fellow at The Discovery Institute is joining me.  When I come back, I’ll have another guest for whom this subject is very personal.  Stay tuned.

SEGMENT 2

JULIE ROYS:  Well, euthanasia is increasingly becoming accepted around the world and here in the U.S.  Welcome back to The Roys Report.  I’m Julie Roys.  And today we’re talking about assisted suicide and euthanasia and the sanctity of human life. Our show today is recorded, so I can’t take your calls. However, I encourage you, you can join the live conversation online by going to Facebook.com/ReachJulieRoys. Or to get to me on Twitter, use my handle @ReachJulieRoys. Also, I want to let you know that today I am giving away copies of Wesley Smith’s most recent book: Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine. This is a warning about the dangers of the modern bioethics movement. Great book. Great resource. So if you’d like to enter to win that book, just go to Julie.Roys.com/giveaway. Again, joining me today is Wesley Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. And I have another guest waiting to tell a really compelling story about how this has personally impacted her life.  But Wesley, I wanted to give you a chance to sort of finish your thought, that you didn’t get a chance to finish at the end of the last segment, about how these laws—they’re supposed to be about compassion, they’re supposed to be a last resort for suicide and euthanasia.  Yet, that’s really not how they’re written, is it? 

WESLEY J. SMITH:  That’s correct and with regard to the 24% of Dutch deaths being induced, it’s actually, as I added it up, 25%.   And the people want to see how it came to that conclusion, they can go to National Review online, the corner, my article of January 21st, 2019.  It will be easy to find if people are interested in how I determined that figure.  In terms of, I was going to get into domestic assisted suicide advocacy. It is always sold as an issue of to be a kind of a safety valve, a last resort to prevent an agonizing death when nothing else can be done to alleviate suffering. But that’s not how the laws read at all.  There is no objective requirement that there be nothing else done, that can be done to alleviate suffering. In fact, if there was it would be a zero rate because there’s always something that can be done to alleviate suffering. Even if it means that cognitive sedation that I discussed. So what happens is these laws say, as cited by the patient, so the patient may not have any actual symptoms at all. But if they have the diagnosis of a terminal illness, likely to cause death within 6 months, they’re able to get the legal prescription. So all of the advocacy that you hear about requiring suffering isn’t true because the laws are not written to so require it. 

JULIE ROYS:  Well, thank you for that distinction. That’s really helpful. I want to introduce us now to Kimberly Kuo. She’s someone I became familiar with because I heard her speak at a conference and her story was so compelling that I was like man, I want people to hear this story of how through her experience. Her husband was David Kuo. He was the former Deputy Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives under President George W. Bush. Kimberly says watching her husband live his life to the fullest, while suffering from this terminal illness, led her to advocate against assisted suicide. So Kimberly, I’m just thrilled to have you join me. Thank you so much for taking the time.

KIMBERELY KUO:  Oh, thank you so much, Julie. I appreciate the opportunity to share.  

JULIE ROYS:  Yeah, well, so tell, I mean, I know your story but our listeners have never heard about it. Tell me a little bit about David and his terminal illness and how that impacted your view of this issue.

KIMBERELY KUO:  Sure, well, I had no view of the issue honestly before David and I’s experience. So, we were in Washington D.C. many years ago. Both of us working in politics.  David was 34 years old when we were driving home from a big Washington party. He was working in the White House at the time and he had a grand mal seizure while driving home. So if you don’t know what that is, his eyes just rolled back in his head and his foot launched on to the gas pedal and we went flying out of control. And so, at about 4:00 in the morning, in the ER, we survived the car crash thankfully. He was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer—Glioblastoma—and that was the first time that he was given 6 months to live. As Wesley mentioned, that’s about all it requires, at that moment. He could have been given lethal drugs to kill himself, saying, you know what, you only have 6 months to live. It’s going to be a terrible, painful illness and way to die. And we certainly didn’t take that path. Although, about 2 years after David actually died, a woman named Brittany Maynard, who I’m sure you’ve heard of, in California, started this whole debate, was diagnosed with the same exact same brain tumor and did set out to take the drug 6 months later. Thankfully, our story continued.  David and I had only been married for 3 years at this point and so David had seizures. He had trouble walking because his left side was impaired after that point. You know, having 5 brain surgeries over the time. But about 2 years after David was given 6 months to live, we had our daughter Olivia. And because we decided we were going to live. And that’s a tough decision to make in these circumstances. But you really have to decide whether you’re going to wait to die or you’re going to live. And 4 years after David was given that 6 months, we had my son, Aiden. So we built a family and we lived, in about, as I mentioned, David had 2 years of chemo after the kids were born. And about 6 years in, the tumor is growing again and he was given 6 months to live again. He had had radiation at this point. It looked on the MRI’s like it had just blown up. They had several doctors look at it—6 months to live.  And we decided to continue using new weapons at our disposal:  medicine, and prayer and fasting and everything we could do.  And then he, of course, lived another few years. Nine years after his first 6 months diagnosis, he was given a third diagnosis of 6 months to live. So he ended up living about 10 years which kind of proves what Wesley was saying, you know. We went through hospice for example for the last 10-11 days of David’s life. And I could tell you story after story of our friends and family who came, flew in across the country over the years of taking us to doctor’s appointments. And seeing miracles of David actually getting another year to live, another 2 years, another 3 years to live. We had people fasting for us around the world. And the faith that was built in our community over this time was enormous. Including the last 10 days of Aiden, Aiden that’s my son, of David’s life when, you know, some people would say, “okay well end it then because it’s painful.”  Honestly, the hospice system in America – the last 10 or 11 days of David’s life were some of the least painful, the least suffering.  However, he continued to influence people incredibly. He was witnessing to his ICU resident and telling him to read Mere Christianity. In the last two weeks when he was in ICU, he challenged his oncologist to start a ministry for homeless cancer patients. Because in their discussions, they realized homeless people don’t have health care, how does a person with cancer be served? So she did so after his death. And so, my message to people, first of all, is this whole debate is predicated on suffering and doctors trying to predict how long you can live or how long you can suffer and what not. And no doctor we every talked to, which were the best doctors in the world: National Institutes for Health, Duke, UCLA, whatever. None of them could predict with any degree of reliability how long David would live, what his suffering would be like, any of those things. And the second thing that I found so interesting is Brittany Maynard, the poster child for this whole compassion and choices argument is that there was purpose in every day that David lived. He would speak to people; he would influence people. And there is no purposeless suffering. And you’ll always having the opportunity to live fully and to influence other people. And so that’s the short version of our story and I’m happy to talk about it more. But I never imagined even being in this debate until I heard some of the arguments for this. And then, of course, as a caretaker, who struggled for 10 years to take care of David, I can tell you that if you had a caretaker who was not, didn’t have the best intentions or just couldn’t do it anymore. It scares me greatly that caretakers can now make that decision for the patient. There’s numerous examples where the patient has not given their own consent. But a caretaker who’s just tired or a caretaker who might inherit money or something could make that decision for a patient.

JULIE ROYS:  Wow.  Well we’re going to have to go to break.  When we come back—Kimberly, thank you so much for that story—but when we come back, let’s talk about the laws in the United States.  What is sort of on the front lines in this assisted suicide and euthanasia debate?  

Again, you’re listening to The Roys Report.  I’m Julie Roys.  Joining me today Kimberly Kuo also Wesley Smith.  We will be right back after a short break.

3rd Segment

JULIE ROYS: Welcome back to The Roys Report, brought to you in part by Judson University.  I’m Julie Roys.  And today, we’re discussing euthanasia and assisted suicide.  Is this something that we should support as a compassionate solution to suffering? Or is it kind of a Trojan Horse, which really ushers in this culture of death and justifies killing anyone that we deem a burden? 

Our show today is recorded, so I can’t take your calls. However, I encourage you to join the conversation live online right now at Facebook.com/ReachJulieRoys. Or to get to me on Twitter, use my handle @ReachJulieRoys. Also, I want to remind you that today I am giving away copies of Wesley Smith’s most recent book: Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, which is a warning about the dangers of this modern bioethics movement. If you’d like to enter to win that book, just go to JulieRoys.com/giveaway. Again, joining me today is Wesley Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Also joining me is Kimberly Kuo, an outspoken advocate against assisted suicide and euthanasia. And Wesley and Kimberly, I just looked this up recently, 2018 Gallup poll found that 72% of Americans support euthanasia or assisted suicide. So the view that you bring to the table is becoming more and more a minority view in this country. Wesley, why don’t you speak to what’s happening with these laws and kinda where the front lines is here in the United States when it comes to euthanasia and assisted suicide. And maybe, can you distinguish what’s the difference between assisted suicide and euthanasia?

WESLEY J. SMITH: As used in this issue’s parlance, assisted suicide is when a doctor gives you a lethal prescription so that you can take an overdose of pills to kill yourself. So the last act that causes death is taken by the person who dies. In Euthanasia, as generally used, the doctor administers a lethal injection, so the last act to cause death is from the doctor. So in Netherlands, Belgium and Canada, this is three examples, that permits euthanasia, they call it “medical aid and dying,” because they love their euphemisms. They don’t want people to think about what’s really happening. But in those three countries you have doctors literally killing people with a lethal injection. And I always find it ironic that these are countries that are against the death penalty by lethal injection. In Belgium and the Netherlands and in Canada, sometimes euthanasia is conjoined with organ harvesting. And so that a person who would not be dead, except for being killed by a doctor, will then have their organs harvested within minutes of succumbing. In Belgium and the Netherlands, and the reason I’m bringing this up is because it shows you once you decide there are killable people, then you decide there are exploitable people. So in Belgium and the Netherlands, not yet in Canada, although it may happen someday, people who are euthanized are sometimes mentally ill. And it does not require in any of those countries a terminal illness. But in Canada, I’m sorry, in Belgium and the Netherlands, mentally ill people are euthanized. That is people who are not physically ill are experiencing the terrible anguish of mental illness, go to a hospital, are killed, they’re wheeled into a surgical suite, and their organs are harvested. And then these experiences have been written up in organ transplant medical journals without an ounce or an iota of criticism. It’s just stunning to consider what we’re doing. And in fact in one of those cases, one of the articles, I looked it up and read it extensively, I looked deep into the heart of the data, you know what the person who was killed and harvested, you know what their mental illness was? Self-harming. So the quote treatment to self-harming was to kill and then harvested. I can’t think of anything more cruel than letting people believe, who are having a terrible time getting through the night, that their deaths have greater value than their lives.

JULIE ROYS: Well this is the slippery slope, isn’t it? I mean it’s . . .

WESLEY J. SMITH: Well yes. 

JULIE ROYS:  . . . one where you let it in, this is where it heads.

WESLEY J. SMITH: It’s not just a slippery slope. What I’m discussing are facts on the ground. And this is not what I project will happen. It is what is happening today. And this happens not because the Dutch or the Belgians or the Canadians, and the Canadians are our closest cultural cousins, it’s not because they’re worse human beings than Americans. It’s because they have excepted the premise that underlies euthanasia. That killing is, that we can eliminate suffering by eliminating the sufferer. And once you accept that logical, that premise, logic will take you to places where we’ve gone. Some go slower than others. The United States is going much slower than the Netherlands did because there’s still a robust pushback here in this country. And by the way, one of the reasons why 72% of the people told Gallup that is because they never hear the reasons for opposing it. The media has gone all-in on supporting assisted suicide. They turned Brittany Maynard into a heroine because she committed assisted suicide.  CNN named her one of their “Extraordinary People” of, I think it was, 2015, because she killed herself.

JULIE ROYS: Yeah, it’s unbelievable. Let me . . .

WESLEY J. SMITH: Yet Kimberly’s husband didn’t get the notice that Brittany Maynard received. And there was another young woman, named Lauren Hill, who had the same illness. She fought for life with dignity instead of quote death with dignity.  And she got a little bit of notice in People Magazine because she raised money for cancer research and continued to play basketball, college basketball.  189 page, word, I’m sorry, word obituary in People.  Brittany Maynard got 1,000 words in People.

KIMBERLY KUO:  Front cover.

JULIE ROYS:  Yeah.  Let me throw this to Kimberly because I want to give you a chance to weigh in on this as well.  I mean, we talked, you, I had you on a radio show that I had on a different network a couple years ago, you know.  And we talked about that, you know.  Since we’ve talked about this issue, New Jersey has passed assisted suicide law. Maine just passed it.  It’s going to go into effect in September.  Are you surprised to see how rapidly this is beginning?  I mean, like you said Wesley, it’s a little bit slower than in Europe but are you surprised to see how it’s getting root here in the United States.

KIMBERLY KUO:  Not really because as I said, I never thought about it and when you talk to people about it, it’s not sort of a happy issue.  It’s not like cutting your taxes.  And the arguments against it are complex.  So I try to raise simple things to people, like someone has to decide who’s going to die.  And basically, the governments are deciding who can die now.  Is that a good thing?  You know, people just don’t think through that and certainly I believe Christians don’t because it’s the exact argument that they use for abortion.  The language is pro-choice.  It’s about women’s health and freedom and doing what you want, but very similar mirrored issues.  No one talks about the fact, to add on to what Wesley was saying about organ harvesting, insurance companies have huge monetary incentives not to treat cancer but to give people $50 worth of lethal drugs.  And I’m a political person so if you look at the California law, what that did was help them fill a 60 million-dollar hole in health care for poor people.

JULIE ROYS:  All right, pause on that.  We need to go to break.  When we come back—I love that you brought up, Kimberly, you know, as Christians how should we think about this?  You know, the arguments for abortion very similar.  We’re going to talk about that when we come back from break.  Again, you’re listening to The Roys Report.  We will be right back after a short break. 

Segment 4

JULIE ROYS:  Well, is euthanasia the answer to chronic suffering or simply a means of ushering in a culture of death?  Welcome back to The Roys Report. I am Julie Roys and today we are tackling this difficult topic of euthanasia and assisted suicide.  As you may know, assisted suicide is legal now in 8 states and the District of Columbia.  In September, it will be legal in 9 states when a new law goes into effect in Maine. Here in Illinois, assisted suicide is not legal however in Illinois, it is legal to withhold food and fluids from a patient who is not dying otherwise. And now that Democrats have a super majority, I just wonder if this is going to be another push here in this state, to do something that is absolutely shocking. So, we’ll be jumping back into that discussion in just a second. But I do want to let you know that next week, we’re going to be talking about just an incredible move of God that’s going on right now in Iran. Joining me will be Joel Richardson, a New York Times bestselling author and filmmaker, and an internationally recognized expert on Biblical prophecy and Islam. Joel has just produced a film on Iran telling the story of how the Iranian regime is actually losing control of the Iranian people. And it’s in large part due to this sweeping movement, interestingly of women, who are following Jesus as their Messiah.  I’m so excited about this show, and to have Joel who will be getting back from the Middle East shortly before the program and can report to the seeing this first hand and what’s going on there.  So, I really hope you’ll make a point to join me next week as I talk to Joel Richardson about that. But returning to our topic today.  Joining me is Wesley J. Smith of the Discovery Institute and Kimberly Kuo, an advocate against euthanasia. And Kimberly I know, for you, Scripture played this huge role in what you said.  You know, initially, you didn’t really have a view on euthanasia and assisted suicide but as you and your husband walked through his terminal illness, you really relied on Scripture and God began to speak to you through it. So, tell me how Scripture informed your view of this topic.

KIMBERLY KUO: Well, let me run through a couple of things on that. First of all, just searching the character of God. So we definitely leaned on specific verses. But I would challenge everybody to understand the character of God because I think sometimes you can pull specific verses out of context. But one of the ones I always use in explaining the issue is Job 2. It’s the first time assisted suicide, that I could find, was mentioned. And that’s when Job had already lost his family, he lost his herds, and his wife came to him and says, you know what, give up just die. Now you’re afflicted physically and there’s something especially hard about that. So just curse God and die.  And what Job says to her is, “don’t be foolish.”  “Don’t be foolish,” you know, “we can do this, God gives us good, God will carry us through this.”  So that’s the first thing I would say.  And then if you jump to Job 28 when God finally fires back, “You know what? Where were you when . . .?” And he goes through, “where were you when I hung the stars?” Right?  We have to trust in a God that Isaiah said is far above our ways.  If he gave us breath, there’s purpose in the breath.  If he gives you a breath today, it means you can live with that, right?  And certainly 1 Cor 6:19 where he says, “your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.  You were bought with a price.  Honor God with your bodies.”  To me, that doesn’t mean until we feel like we can’t anymore.  You know, like I said, David’s body was broken.  He lost his ability to walk, he lost his ability to turn over in a bed and he still honored God as much as he could in every way that he could.  And so I don’t think that charge to us, to honor God with our bodies, ends.  I think, you know, Julie I mentioned this in the conference, I get asked a lot this Catholic view that, you know, suicide in any way, shape or form is just an unforgiveable sin.  But to me, it’s the original sin to say, “you know what, I will handle this, that and the other but man when it comes to suffering physically and dying, I’m taking over. God must have made a mistake. I’m going to control this, right? I’m not going to honor God anymore. I’m just going to control this whole thing.” And I think that the fundamental, you know, unfaithful position, if we believe God is the good Father and perfect in all of His ways, then He’s perfect in all of His ways and we have to submit to that. 

JULIE ROYS: And our suffering happens under his sovereignty.  And I think interestingly, we follow a Savior who endured suffering to the end. Who said, you know, I want, Father, take this cup from me and yet He didn’t bow out at that point he said okay, “this is legitimate suffering. This redemptive suffering. I’m going to do it in faithfulness to the Father.” And so what an example Jesus gave us.

KIMBERLY KUO:  Exactly, and he says in the end, “I will honor you, God. Right? I see what suffering is coming before me, and I hate it, please no, but, in the end, not me but you, God and I will honor you no matter what.” 

JULIE ROYS: Amen, it’s so powerful, the example of Christ.  And it helps us, you know, as we face these things. Wesley, you were saying as we were talking in the break, that this issue, you know, a lot of us think, well okay, so when our state is going to, you know, if there’s a law that we’re going to be considering, then we’ll think about this issue. You’re saying this could hit you very personally. You need to think about it now and think about what you’re going to do. Tell me about that.

WESLEY J. SMITH:  Right and I would also point out based on what Kimberly said “compassion,” the root meaning is to suffer with. Assisted suicide isn’t suffering with anybody, it’s discarding. And it certainly does not reflect—and the Hippocratic oath, 500 years before Christ, understood that—it prohibits doctors from participation. But I want your listeners to consider. They may think, well, this will never affect me, will only happen if I get sick or somebody in my life gets sick and I won’t have to think about it otherwise. I don’t think that’s true. You see in the media today a lot of promotion of what are called suicide parties. That is people who are going to commit assisted suicide or euthanasia, for example in Canada, have a party which culminates, either at the end of the party with the killing, or the party ends and then the person commits assisted suicide. It is being normalized in the popular culture. And your listeners could receive a call one day from, let’s say, sister Sue.  Sister Sue calls and says, “you know, Grandma has cancer.  She’s expected to die within six months. But she’s decided it’s next Tuesday.  She wants you come. She wants you to be here when she takes the pills.”  What do you do?  If you say, “yes,” you are complicit in Grandma’s suicide. You are validating Grandma that she perhaps is a burden. Maybe her fear is she’s a burden. Or she’s worried that she will be loved less if people see her go through the decline that can be experienced in a terminal illness. Brittany Maynard said that one of her two reasons for committing assisted suicide was she didn’t want her family to have the bad memory of her going through the decline caused by the brain cancer. In other words, she put herself out of her family’s misery. This is really frightening. So, if you say yes, you’re complicit. You’re validating and it may be the thing that pushes Grandma over the final ledge. “Well, I guess if my family says I should do it, I should do it,” right?  But if you say, “no,” you could end up losing your family. For example, you say, “no.”  Sister Sue says, “how dare you impose your Christianity on Grandma, on us.  If you don’t come and if you’re not part of her—she helped put you through college, you’re out of the family.”  And don’t think that won’t happen. Christians are now facing increasing persecution for being faithful to their faith. Doctors are actually in Canada being forced to choose between euthanizing patients or getting out of health care. A court ruled in Ontario, Canada that a Christian doctor who refuses to euthanize, and refuses to procure a euthanasia doctor who will euthanize, can actually face professional discipline because of that decision not to kill. So, there’s going to be—any one of your listeners could end up facing this situation. And I think pastors, if you have pastors listening to your show, they need to bone up on this so that if somebody comes into their study and says, “Pastor I’ve got a problem. You know they want me to come out and participate in a suicide party.”  The pastors’ need to be able to counsel those parishioners in order to do what’s right both by Grandma and by the parishioner.

JULIE ROYS:  Kimberly, I am curious in your advocacy, have you talked to many pastors and, you know, if so, how did they respond about getting involved on this issue and speaking out about it?

KIMBERLY KUO:  Almost all said to me, even at the conference I was at where you attended Julie, is, “oh my gosh, I never thought about this.” And that’s kind of what happens in these social issues and you know that. And I hate to say this but it is, you know several Republican governors and legislatures defeated these and then a Democrat came in and they were approved. So this is more of a liberal agenda item. They’re organized, they are pushing this, and we’re just not even paying attention. And so almost all of them have either asked me to come speak, or “what do you say?” or, “are there resources?” Nobody is thinking about this. I’m thrilled to read Wesley’s book. But even among my friends, no churches or pastors are talking about this at all. And if I could just play on one thing he said there, about the word compassion. One thing I always bring up for Christians to look at. Look at Mother Teresa. She’s like this icon of compassion. Even the Pope said, you know, this assisted suicide is misdirected compassion. Let’s own what compassion is. She’s not killing off people suffering in Calcutta. She’s comforting them, staying with them, loving with them. And people like that, they understand that that’s good. Well then that’s the model we should be following, right? We need to understand and claim what compassion is because David and I experienced compassion. We experienced the Body of Christ. And it was certainly not anyone sleeping in a hospital bedroom with us saying you know, just get this over with, end this. It was someone sitting there, you know, bringing supplies or holding his hand. I once stayed up for 36 hours clicking a morphine clicker every 5 minutes to keep his pain under control, right? That’s compassion.

JULIE ROYS:  And it changes you, doesn’t it? 

KIMBERLY KUO:  Oh, forever, yes and everyone around you. Yes.

JULIE ROYS:  The character that’s formed in us, I think, as we walk with people in their suffering; it develops something in us. And yet I think we don’t want to suffer even though as Christians we know, part of being a Christian is taking up your cross, following Christ, imitating him, you know. Following His example. And yet we want to just sort of get out of that process.  And who likes suffering?  It’s tough, it’s really, really tough. 

WESLEY J. SMITH: Obligation, if people weren’t suffering, how would anybody ever provide the succor that people do?  You know, when you’re receiving care, you’re allowing other people to plant seeds of love. If nobody was willing to receive care, how would those seeds of love ever be planted? And if you take a look back at the early church, why did the church become popular among the poor? Because the people of the early church picked up the children that were exposed on hills, took care of the elderly who were being abandoned and so forth. So, when you show that—I’ll bet that the incredible love you gave your husband, Kimberly, touched more people than you will ever know on this side of eternity. Because, you know, when people claim to be Christians, I’m a little stepping outside my parameter here, but people watch to see how you act. 

JULIE ROYS:  Yeah, they do.  I hate to do this.  We’re running out of time. I’m going to have to bring this to a close. But Wesley I so appreciate what you said. And Kimberly, I so appreciate what you said. And I’d love to have you both back and talk about this again sometime because I feel like it’s much larger than we’re able to deal with in this time. But you’re absolutely right, Wesley, people are watching us. And I think it’s very clear in Scripture.  Deuteronomy 32:39, says, “There is no god besides Me.  I put to death and I bring to life.  I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of My hand.”  The right to life and to death is God’s.  That’s not just my view, that’s Scripture’s view.  Thanks so much for joining me for The Roys Report.  Have a great weekend and God bless.

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