The Postman of Death

  It sometimes seems that neither sleet, nor snow, nor dark of night can stop the onslaught of what Pope John Paul II calls "the culture of death." Last month that deadly culture took a giant step forward in Oregon. But in another state, Christians are proving that once in a while, it's possible to keep the Postman of Death from his appointed rounds. Last November, Oregon voters affirmed an earlier vote to legalize assisted suicide. It wasn't long before the Public Health Commission decided that the new law discriminated against people who were too poor to hire their own medical assassins. Their solution? Force the taxpayers to finance them. The commission recently decided that administering a lethal drug cocktail will be covered as a "medical service" for the 270,000 low-income Oregonians covered under the state's health plan. In effect, it's going to pay doctors to kill those who are poor and sick. The discriminatory effect of this new, so-called "entitlement" wasn’t lost on some Oregonians. Dr. Gregory Hamilton, of a group called Physicians for Compassionate Care, pointed out that many of Oregon's rural areas lack hospices, which would enable people to truly die with dignity. What will happen when the poor are faced with painful, lingering deaths on their own—or state-funded suicide? As Hamilton put it, "To offer state-funded suicide while failing to offer adequate [hospice] care is unconscionable." Well, the Postman of Death may be gaining ground in Oregon—but he's been set back on his heels in South Carolina. Last January, 49 state officials, including Governor David Beasley, signed a document called "A Covenant with Life." The signers reaffirmed the belief of Thomas Jefferson that "the protection of human life, and not its destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government." "We call for a South Carolina where every baby is welcomed and protected by law," the document reads, "where every pregnant mother is given the help she needs to face a difficult pregnancy, and where every ill person is offered adequate palliative, emotional, and spiritual care and is protected from having his or her life taken by physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia." As a first step toward acting on the covenant, the South Carolina House of Representatives recently voted to ban the use of state tax dollars to any group that provides or refers for abortion. The signers of this covenant give us a tremendous example of how Christians can be salt and light in our society. They are giving citizens a way out of the false choices the secular culture offers. If you live in Oregon, I hope you'll call your state lawmakers and tell them to stop this madness. Tax dollars that kill the poor is something right out of Hitler's maniacal regime. A century ago there was a great "westward ho" in America. Millions of pioneers crossed the frontier, braving death from Indians. Today, the descendents of those settlers face another peril: this time death at the hands of doctors and bureaucrats. Maybe Oregonians ought to begin an "eastward ho" back to South Carolina—a state where people still believe in protecting human life.


Chuck Colson


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