Contemporary Issues Ministry (CIM)
Forum on Euthanasia,
Ms Bernice Lee
The forum, entitled “Euthanasia: A Christian Perspective”,
was organised by the Graduates’ Christian Fellowship (GCF).
Forum saw a room packed with participants from various Christian
circles who had come to hear the views of
Dr. Alastair Campbell, Director of the Centre for
Biomedical Ethics, National University Singapore;
Dr. Alex Tang, Director of the
Spiritual Formation Institute, Malaysia, and a paediatrician at the
Johor Specialist Hospital; and Rev. Dr. Tan
Soo Inn, Chairman and Training Consultant of Graceworks
Pte Ltd, and Chaplain of the Christian Medical and Dental Fellowship
Dr. Campbell gave an excellent
and concise overview of existing definitions, the current legal
position in Singapore, international comparisons, arguments for and
against, and possible scenarios for the future. Although the literal
meaning of euthanasia is “a good death”,
Dr. Campbell noted that there is an increasing tendency
to wrongly equate it with mercy killing. He also spent some time
explaining the differences between voluntary, non-voluntary and
involuntary versions of euthanasia.
Dr. Alex Tang felt that in the
midst of extensive debate, euthanasia had lost its original meaning
of a “good death”. Coming against conventional understandings of
euthanasia as refusing treatment, or an opportunity to get rid of
old folks, or the Advanced Medical Directive, or doctors as killers,
he added that doctors have a license only to save, and redefined
euthanasia in the light of what Scripture approves. Drawing from
examples in the Bible, he concluded that “euthanasia for Christians
is to live well and to die well at the appointed time”.
Rev. Dr. Tan broadened the
debate by bringing in the importance of hospice and palliative care
for terminally ill patients. In addressing this, he revisited the
painful personal experience of caring for his wife who was diagnosed
with Stage 4 cancer in 1992 and died a year later.
Rev. Dr. Tan expressed his concern
that Christians could tend to focus so much on their theological
position that they neglect the day-to-day practical life issues of
caring for a suffering, terminally ill patient. He also spoke of the
need for Christians to support the hospice movement which is at the
forefront of providing palliative care.
A lively question-and-answer session ensued after the panelists had
completed their presentations, with some participants enriching the
discussion by sharing from their personal experiences.