Euthanasia, Utilitarianism & the Culture War

Because we are social beings, Orthodox moral theology must also pay attention to what is happening in the culture. This is why the evangelical witness of the Church must also include our willingness to comment on the public policy. This is especially important when as George Weigel points out is happening in Canada, governments advance policies that are immoral. Take a look:

Last year, when I asked a leading Canadian Catholic opponent of euthanasia why a rich country like the “True North strong and free” couldn’t provide palliative end-of-life care for all those with terminal illnesses, relieving the fear of agonized and protracted dying that’s one incentive for euthanasia, he told me that only 30 percent of Canadians had access to such care. When I asked why the heck that was the case, he replied that, despite assurances from governments both conservative and liberal that they’d address this shameful situation, the financial calculus had always won out—from a utilitarian point of view, euthanizing H and others like him was the sounder public policy.

But in Canada, a mature democracy, that utilitarian calculus among government bean-counters wouldn’t survive for long if a similar, cold calculus were not at work in the souls of too many citizens. And that is one reason why the Church must engage the culture war, not only in Canada but in the United States and throughout the West: to warm chilled souls and rebuild a civil society committed to human dignity.

For more: It’s a Culture War, Stupid | George Weigel | First Things