The other right to life

By Kim Lehman


Last week, hundreds of thousands of Americans took to the streets of Washington DC to commemorate the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  But the March for Life is not just about abortion.  Ralliers hope to build a culture of life where the human person is viewed as sacred from conception to natural death.

Far from the DC streets where the marchers walk in protest, a movie opens next week in Iowa attempting to build a culture of life in a different way.  The Genesis Code, a family-friendly independent film, follows the fight of a college student, Blake Truman, to prevent his comatose mother’s death at the hands of his grandparents.  While they believe she would have chosen euthanasia over her silent battle against cancer, Blake refuses to roll over and watch his mother die.  His battle will rock his family and send him on a journey to find the hope he needs to help his mother live.

Euthanasia doesn’t quite get the same attention as abortion, despite being an issue borne of the same battle.  There are plenty of reasons: euthanasia isn’t legal in our country; euthanasia doesn’t inflame tensions with women’s rights’ and sexual license groups; euthanasia requires the consent of the victim.  But is our consent to live the only thing of value?

Assisted suicide remains suicide.  Those wishing to kill themselves are depressed, believing that they are an unwanted burden on their families, and families tacitly approve of this bitter assessment by fighting for their “right” to die.  Euthanasia advocates often use the term “dignity” — many voluntary suicide laws use terms like “Death with Dignity” and the biggest death clinic in Europe calls itself Dignitas.  But where’s the dignity in judging oneself unworthy of existence?  This Orwellian co-option of the word chills the bone.

All of the arguments for euthanasia deny the sacredness of life, thus putting all life in jeopardy as we consider someone more or less worthy of living based on their conditions.  As writer Malcolm Muggeridge observed, “This life in us; however low it flickers or fiercely burns, is still a divine flame which no man dare presume to put out, be his motives never so humane and enlightened; to suppose otherwise is to countenance a death-wish.”

A conditional understanding of the value of life leads to the execution of the weak.  The unborn child is killed to prevent what a parent feels would surely be a tragic life, and the aged parent is killed to prevent what would surely be a tragic death.  Both deaths are travesties which must be combated with a vigorous defense of the sacredness of human life.

Protest is one way to defend human dignity, but fights can also be waged at the box office.  For the other side of the story on euthanasia, defenders of the right to life would do well to check out The Genesis Code.

[Thanks to Kim Lehman for her guest submission to Quiner’s Diner. Mrs. Lehman is the Development Director for the John Paul II Stem Cell Research Institute.  She is also the former President of Iowa Right to Life.]