Part of the reason I started this blog was to “discuss things that are weighing heavily on me”, this specific dilemma has weighed heavily on me since I became a Christian. To be honest, it has always bothered me a little, but I rationalized it out. When I became a Christian it started to burden me even more.
This is a question of whether I have or currently am committing murder, and there are really 2 parts to this dilemma…
As background I work in a healthcare setting with a predominantly elderly population. I have a patient who refuses to take her blood pressure medication because she “wants to die”. Now, I know that in most cases not taking medication for hypertension won’t instantly kill you, but long term effects of noncompliance will eventually catch up with you. So by honoring her wishes and not giving her the medication, am I killing her? And if I slip her the medication without telling her, am I sinning by lying and taking away her free will, arguably one of the greatest gifts God gave us?
Legally I am required to respect her wishes and hold her medication, but what about morally? Luckily in this situation I was able to solve the problem; I told the patient who is a Christian that I am also Christian and feel like I am committing murder by holding her blood pressure medication (plus a psychiatric consultation was ordered), since then she has been compliant.
The second part of this dilemma comes from my work with hospice patients. A common medication ordered is liquid Morphine Sulfate, Morphine is one of many drugs that is used to treat moderate to severe pain and it is used to treat shortness of breath, it is very effective with improving the hospice patients quality of life. However, this medication can also cause respiratory depression. Many times in my career I have administered Morphine Sulfate to a visibly uncomfortable dying hospice patient, and many times they have died within half an hour of receiving the prescribed dose. Would the patients have died without that medication? Yes. Did the medication bring them to death early? I’m afraid only God knows the answer, and I sometimes fear the answer is yes.
I am at a loss here I don’t know whether the medication depressed their respiration and caused them to die, or it relaxed them and they were able to let go peacefully on their own. Again, legally I am bound to respect their wishes to die pain free with dignity, but on a moral level I struggle with this issue, to the point of wanting to quit at times.
The Bible is pretty clear in Exodus 20:13 (KJV)– “Thou shalt not kill.” I just wish wether I have killed or not was as clear.
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 (NLT)
I believe my sins will be made right through faith, but that doesn’t mean that I struggle with them any less.
- Hospice vs. Hospital (nytimes.com)
- Hospice Care Doesn’t Hasten Death (nlm.nih.gov)
- The Christian Speaks: Physician-Assisted Suicide (thenewinklings.wordpress.com)