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Home > Events > CIM - Forum on Euthanasia

Contemporary Issues Ministry (CIM) - Forum on Euthanasia

by Ms. Bernice Lee
Date: 19-Feb-09 Thursday

The forum, entitled “Euthanasia: A Christian Perspective”, was organised by the Graduates’ Christian Fellowship (GCF).

The Euthanasia 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 (CMDF).

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.