Euthanasia Aloha: Death Laws Come to Hawaii
Like so much of the past five years, the legalization of murder in Hawaii played out like an episode from a paranoid Christian novel from the 1990s. You know, the kind that angry believers self-published and sold at gun shows, warning of the worst? If you found one, you’d read the first couple of pages then lay it sadly aside. Maybe with a prayer for the author’s sanity. We owe such authors a collective apology. Things have gotten so much worse so much more quickly than anyone imagined. Anyone, that is, except for them.
Where else but in some angry potboiler would the state legislature legalize murder on Holy Thursday? That’s the day when the authorities arrested Jesus, for legal murder on Friday. When the apostles fell asleep, then fled. When Judas counted his silver. But that’s what just happened in Hawaii. They voted on Holy Thursday, one day ahead of the Sanhedrin. That’s when the state senate agreed to legalize medical suicide.
Or maybe it’s some bad screenplay by an earnest Biola student. That’s where you find this scene. Pro-death legislators climb into the elevator after the vote and joke: “Well, I guess we should all just commit suicide now!” They gather for a group selfie, and instead of “Cheese” they all yell “Banzai!” — the death cry of Kamikaze pilots.
Death Comes to Hawaii
But all of that just happened in Honolulu. Stream columnist Jason Jones stood there and witnessed it. Jason didn’t go to the legislature alone. A monk went with him, Fr. David Barfknecht, prior of Hawaii’s Benedictines. Their mission? To lobby for life, and hand out copies of the pro-life manifesto which Jason and I wrote together, The Race to Save Our Century. The Benedictines donated one copy to every elected official in Hawaii, and this was the day to distribute them. The book shows how every threat to innocent life arises from the same dark temptations. From the dank motives that hounded the handicapped and other “subhumans” into death camps. That bombed whole cities into cinders.
Jason recounts that it was quite an experience to watch the Sanhedrin — sorry, the legislature — make its decision. He said:
If you want to attack the culture of Hawaii you couldn’t do better than this bill. There isn’t a community in the world that is more respectful to the elderly, sick and disabled than Hawaii. We were left this culture of solidarity by people like Queen Emma and Saint Damien. Queen Emma went door to door to raise funds to care for her subjects, which is now the world-class Queens Medical Center. Saint Damien shared the burdens of the sick till the moment of his own death. They served under the Hawaiian Kingdom whose motto “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness” was later adopted by the state of Hawaii.
It was a privilege to be asked by Father David to walk the halls of power sharing our book with the elected officials of my home state. I wrote this book as a love letter to my posterity. To let them know I was thoughtful of their well-being. The Jacobins are busy chopping down the trees planted by Queen Emma and Saint Damien. I want the Kama’aina a century from now to know that at least some of us were planting trees and tending the garden that is the culture of Hawaii.
The new law which just passed the Hawaii state legislature allows physicians to help terminal patients commit suicide. It has some safeguards to prevent “abuse,” defenders say.
But we all know what happens to such safeguards: They quickly fall by the wayside. Remember how Roe v. Wade pretended that it protected unborn children after “viability”? In fact, abortion on demand for any reason is de facto legal in all 50 states through all nine months.
Likewise with suicide. In the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland, laws like Hawaii’s opened the door to euthanasia for depressed patients, or doctors euthanizing unconscious patients who never consented. Euthanasia is now one of the leading causes of death in Holland, accounting for almost 5 percent of the bodies now buried there.
As America ages with Europe, and birth rates stay low, the pressure from bean-counters at health insurance companies will lead to medical death panels, formal or informal. Aging parents will feel that they are a “burden” to their children, caregivers, and taxpayers. And the pressure will close in on these people who worked hard all through their lives to let the nice man with the needle “do the right thing for everyone.”
To his eternal credit, the Catholic Bishop of Hawaii, Larry Silva, wrote a powerful column on the eve of the vote. It’s not too much to call it prophetic, since it spoke timeless truth to power. Bravely, he didn’t hide his message in a pointless private note. He published it in the state’s largest newspaper. The bishop asked:
What of family members who will be deprived of the physical presence of their loved one and will have to live with the weight of their own consciences regarding this very unnatural process. What of those who are suffering depression, which can be even more dark and painful than physical pain, including our beloved young people? Won’t this suggest to them that if life becomes too burdensome, checking oneself out of it sooner than later is a legitimate option? If this door to choosing death is opened, will insurance companies and health care facilities continue to provide very expensive but ingenious treatments, developed over generations by scientists, technicians, and medical personnel? Or will the “bottom line” lead them to refuse these expensive treatments[?]
It is unspeakably sad that Holy Thursday saw the victory of death in a great American state. It’s heartening that one of the apostles stayed true. Bishop Silva watched and waited with Jesus, in the person of the sick and dying, whose lives He rendered sacred. May each of us stay close to Jesus, when we meet Him so on this earth.
One easy way to know Him when you see Him: He’s the one surrounded by a crowd of doctors and politicians, all baying for His death.