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A Book Review: A Guide to Discussing Assisted Suicide

Updated: Jan 26

Review by Amy Scherschligt, PPL Board Member

Physician assisted suicide is a "life issue" that places human beings, God's image bearers, under imminent threat of forced death. Christians are called to protect the most vulnerable among us, like those at risk of assisted suicide. It's a life issue we must oppose, but how do we defend our position?

The PPL Life Team I lead in Sacramento, California feels a sense of urgency in learning how to discuss assisted suicide with friends and family members. After all, our state recently legalized this form of death, joining New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Vermont. To equip ourselves we turned to a new, 90-page book: A Guide to Discussing Assisted Suicide, by Blaise Alleyne and Jonathan Van Maren.

The authors present practical, street-tested apologetics to change hearts and minds on assisted suicide. They advocate framing the suicide debate by addressing the fundamental tension between suicide prevention and suicide promotion.

"We must make the case for suicide prevention. The issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide is a suicide issue, and that is the issue that suicide advocates most want to avoid." (Page 6)

Here are three tactics they present for effective dialogue:

  1. Find Common ground: have a compassionate conversation not a debate

  2. Use Analogies: draw out their worldview and appeal to analogous moral situations to illustrate a principle.

  3. Ask Questions: Why is that? What do you mean by that?

We found it helpful that much of the book discusses the fundamental question at the center of the suicide debate. Who gets suicide prevention and who gets suicide assistance? There are three possible positions:

  • The Split Position: suicide assistance for some, suicide prevention for others

  • The Total Choice Position: suicide assistance for anyone

  • The Pro-Life Position: suicide prevention for anyone

We need to dialogue by asking questions to reveal which position someone holds. An entire chapter is dedicated to each position. The longest chapter is the one on The Split Position because those that hold this view support assisted suicide and suicide prevention. The authors write that the goal in responding to them is to confront this cognitive dissonance.

As people who believe in the dignity and value of every human life, it is our responsibility to engage people in conversations on assisted suicide. The authors of this book are from Canada where PAS has been legal. They mention that a lobby group that was working to prevent the legalization of euthanasia commissioned several polls to find out what public opinion on the issue was in Canada. They discovered that nearly 70% of Canadians supported the legalization of euthanasia. But after a 15-minute conversation, that number fell to almost 30%. (Page 89)

A Guide to Discussing Assisted Suicide helps bring clarity to this difficult life issue. It will equip you to speak up for the vulnerable instead of remaining silent. To order a copy of this book, go here or call 1-866-428-2820.

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