Capital Commentary is the weekly current-affairs publication of CPJ, written to encourage the pursuit of public justice.

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This Week’s Capital Commentary

Michelle Crotwell Kirtley

Article Summary: 

In October, California became the fifth state to enact legislation which allows doctors to prescribe lethal medication for terminally ill patients. California is one of more than twelve states that have considered bills to legalize physician-assisted suicide this year alone, and the movement continues to gain momentum.

The push for physician-assisted suicide reflects two deeply held American values: individual autonomy and compassion. However, a Christian view of human flourishing changes how we look at our fellow human beings who are facing the end of their lives. In this article, Michelle Crotwell Kirtley examines the arguments supporting physician-assisted suicide in light of a Christian perspective on autonomy and human suffering. She urges us to take a broader and more nuanced approach to caring for those facing a painful death, looking closely at why suicide is an attractive choice for some who are terminally ill, and how we can serve these patients and their caregivers.

She argues that it is not enough for Christians to protect life at its final stages by opposing physician-assisted suicide, but we must also advocate for reforms that will better honor the dignity of terminally ill patients and better enable all patients to access quality, holistic, culturally contextualized care.

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