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I Want the Right to End my Life Through Euthanasia – Desmond Tutu Says in his 85th Birthday Message

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Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said in a birthday message in the Washington Post that he wants the option of assisted death.

With my life closer to its end than its beginning, I wish to help give people dignity in dying.

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,” Tutu wrote.

Tutu had changed his mind over assisted suicide two years ago after a lifelong opposition but had remained ambiguous about whether he personally would choose such a 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 said.

He believed in the sanctity of life but also that terminally ill people should not be forced to endure terrible pain and suffering, he wrote. Instead they should have control over the manner and timing of their death.

“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,” Tutu added.

24 Comments

  1. Ada

    October 9, 2016 at 7:52 am

    The Bishop should show us where the Bible allows such.

    • Bimbo

      October 9, 2016 at 10:56 am

      If God allows people to die horrible, painful deaths then they should be allowed to end their pain – what is the bible study own in this situation? A book written thousands of years ago with no solutions for modern day problems !

    • Corolla

      October 9, 2016 at 12:15 pm

      @Bimbo, a thousand likes and 100 gbosas for your comment.

    • nene+

      October 9, 2016 at 5:32 pm

      what is the bible study own in this situation? A book written thousands of years ago with no solutions for modern day problems? Like seriously? You must be referring to other books certainly not the Bible.
      Read below.
      There are two instances of euthanasia in the Bible. In the first, Abimelech, believing himself to be fatally wounded (with a fractured skull after being hit on the head by a millstone), asks his armour-bearer to kill him to spare him the ‘indignity’ of being killed by a woman (Judges 9:52-55). In the second, an Amalekite despatches the mortally injured Saul, still alive after a failed attempt at suicide (2 Samuel 1:6-9).

      These two cases demonstrate the two main arguments for euthanasia, autonomy (‘death with dignity’) and compassion (‘release from suffering’).

      The Bible tells us that human beings are unique amongst God’s creatures in being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and it is on this basis, after the flood, that God introduces to all humankind the death penalty for murder (Genesis 9:6,7).

      The prohibition against killing legally innocent people is later formalised in the sixth commandment, ‘You shall not murder’ (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17). The Hebrew word for ‘murder’ is ratsach (Greek phoneuo) and its meaning is further defined in four main passages in the Pentateuch (Exodus 21:12-14; Leviticus 24:17-21; Numbers 35:16-31; Deuteronomy 19:4-13).

      These passages resolve any ambiguity for us and give a precise definition of what is prohibited, namely the ‘intentional killing of an innocent human being’ (Exodus 23:7; 2 Kings 21:16; Psalms 106:37,38; Jeremiah 19:4). Euthanasia clearly falls within this biblical definition. There is no provision for compassionate killing, even at the person’s request and there is no recognition of a ‘right to die’ as all human life belongs to God (Psalms 24:1). Our lives are not actually our own. Suicide (and therefore assisted suicide) is therefore equally wrong.

      Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that that we should go beyond the mere letter of the sixth commandment  to fulfil the very spirit of love on which it is based (Matthew 5:21,22) . We are called to walk in Jesus’ footsteps, to be imitators of God, to love as he himself loved (1 John 2:6; Ephesians 5:1,2; John 13:34, 35).

      Sadly, however, many Christians today are confused about euthanasia and fall prey to emotive hard cases and false dichotomies.

      It is often argued that we have only two equally undesirable alternatives to choose from – either ‘living hell’ or the euthanasia needle – both of which are imperfect and unloving solutions.

    • Mohammad

      October 9, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      The only religious leader I have any true respect for. In his own words: “A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.”

    • Bims

      October 9, 2016 at 6:59 pm

      Bimbo, please when you want to say bs, use one of your other names, if you have more than 1. I hate people writing bs, especially when we have the same name.

    • MAMA

      October 10, 2016 at 9:36 am

      THE BIBLE IS NOT JUST A ‘book’. IT WAS NOT WRITTEN ‘thousands of years ago’. THE BIBLE IS THE MIND OF GOD AND IT IS AS LIVING AND POWERFUL AS THE GO WHO WROTE IT. The sentiment and weaknesses of men does not in any way affect the WORD OF GOD
      It is obvious you have not YET encountered this truth. Everything decision we make in life is a choice but there are laws to guide into making the right choices.

    • Seriously

      October 10, 2016 at 1:42 pm

      Here comes a so called “Bishop” putting his own translation on things and put it on God. I’m not that religious but the Bible definitely has all the answers to modern day problems. Clearly, you haven’t read the Bible because every thing that will be classified modern day problem is in there. There’s nothing new under the sun. Is it murder, rape, homosexuality, idolatry, fornication, hatred for one another, wars, self destruction, Adultery, false prophets, suicide, gossip, etc
      I can’t quote where they are mentioned in the Bible but all i know is you will find the problem and solution in there. I’ve never seen something so detailed and applicable when done properly.

    • PH Chica

      October 10, 2016 at 4:22 pm

      Renewed ReSpEcKt for Nene+ ??????

    • Marlvina

      October 9, 2016 at 4:29 pm

      Is there really anything wrong with Euthanasia? It’s only ending the life as to relief pain and suffering on the individual. Why should you go through the trauma watching a loved one die in such terrible condition, sleepless nights, crying in pains etc? Psychologically you can also get disturbed. Even animals, my dog for instance; she was very sick and in serious pains, Emotionally I couldn’t stand it. I felt so sad an hurt watching her suffer everyday. Why should she suffer? What offense did she commit to go through all that? I had to call the vet to inject her to sleep & rest in peace!

    • Timothy.

      October 9, 2016 at 6:36 pm

      Sadly, the respected Bishop had already in a previous instance, chosen to disobey what God disallows and states clearly multiple times in His Word, and in that instance, it was also because the issue had become personal to the Bishop i.e. he attended the lesbian ‘,marriage’ ceremony of his daughter; celebrating, and publicly, with her and her ‘wife.’ flaunting his sin in the Face of God. God condemns homosexuality and sexual perversion of any kind, and He condemns also those who give support to the practice of this abomination.

      THE WORD OF GOD ON HOMOSEXUALITY:

      Leviticus 18: 22 – You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.

      I Corinthians 6: 9 (NIV) – Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

      I Timothy 1: 8-11 (NASB) – “But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.”

      2 Peter 2: 6 (ESV): – … by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes [God] condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly.

      THE WORD OF GOD ON SUPPORT FOR HOMOSEXUALITY AND SIMILAR SINS:

      Romans 1: 32: “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

      Proverbs 24: 24–25: “He who says to the wicked, ‘You are righteous,’ Peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him; But to those who rebuke the wicked will be delight, And a good blessing will come upon them.”

    • sharon

      October 10, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      Mr Timothy, I saw a lot more other sins mentioned in those passages you were quick to quote. But no, always quick to mention homosexuality…sigh

  2. Udegbunam Chukwudi

    October 9, 2016 at 9:18 am

    I would love that option to. E get some kain illness I would never wish on my worst enemy. Sometimes I find myself hoping some patients would just drift off never to wake again as their suffering is just too much.

  3. Abena

    October 9, 2016 at 11:30 am

    I have seen friends and family members suffer from the pain of terminal illness and I agree with Archbishop Tutu about having the right to end your life when pain becomes unbearable.

  4. EE

    October 9, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    He could have taken a trip to the high veld, shoot himself full of morphine and gone to meet his maker, but I suppose “activism” said no!

    • EE

      October 9, 2016 at 1:58 pm

      Looks like some here haven’t put a lot of thought into the ethics of euthanasia. Your right to life is a natural law, thus its immoral for anybody but you to control it, why liberals, Catholics e.t.c are generally opposed.

      Bishop Tutu already has the right to end his life. What Euthanasia does is transfer that responsibility, the weight of taking a life to another, which is cowardly and immoral.

      Turning a Doctor (Hippocratic oath, remember) into an executioner really ought to be one of those black and white things where the wrong thing is blatantly obvious, but moral relativism is in vogue.

    • slice

      October 9, 2016 at 11:26 pm

      No it doesn’t. If you allow him.buy the tools, he’ll happily kill himself. However you generally can’t legally buy lethal drugs. We help animals die when we know they won’t survive
      Why force humans to stay alive

    • EE

      October 10, 2016 at 12:35 am

      So sleeping pills are illegal in SA? Morphine? A knife? A human being can’t be prevented from killing itself. What is being asked for here is an executioner.

      “We help animals die when we know they won’t survive
      Why force humans to stay alive”

      This might shock you, but a test of civilization lies in not treating humans like animals, why they’re no slaves for example. Why they’re laws preventing a husband from just mounting his wife, why its illegal for step-fathers to kill their children like lions do.

      Human beings are higher animals, we should aspire to stay that way, better it even not degrade ourselves.

  5. Nene

    October 9, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    What a bishop? Is that what he’s supposed to be saying?

  6. OnPoint

    October 9, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Seriously @Bimbo? That book(The Bible) is more current that tomorrow’s newspaper

    • Theos.

      October 9, 2016 at 5:49 pm

      @OnPoint, I don’t just wish, I LOVE your comment innumerable, illimitable, and infinite times.

  7. Festus

    October 9, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    The desire for Euthanasia is a result of selfishness and lost of focus in the manual of life. In life, we must first understand the purpose of life. The purpose of life is our manual. If job had requested for Euthanasia, the glory of God and testimony wouldn’t be made manifest. No man alive had witnessed what Job passed through yet he pulled through.

  8. Mondela

    October 10, 2016 at 9:28 am

    I dont understand,is this not a form of suicide?…and is suicide not viewed as a sin in christianity?

  9. miini

    October 10, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Don’t mind him. In the last days…………

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