Monday, 28 September 2009

Christianity and Assisted Dying

Book Review

Is there a Christian Case for Assisted Dying? by Paul Badham

SPCK 2009, 144 pp., £9.99, p/b.

Paul Badham is a theologian who has been running courses on death and dying at Lampeter in Wales for over 20 years. In this book he makes a Christian case for voluntary euthanasia, which is supported by around 80% of the general public, but by far fewer theologians. He explains why these issues have become so critical and gives some personal background relating to deaths in his own family. He puts forward various
perspectives, including the absolutist and consequentialist, asking if suicide necessarily implies ingratitude towards God and discussing both the relevance of the question and the problem of suffering. The arguments are carefully put throughout the book. One distinguishing feature is Badham's understanding of near death experiences, ignored by many theologians, but which can at one level illuminate the Christian hope. This book complements the subtle arguments put forward by Mary Warnock and Elizabeth McDonald's Easeful Death, a book which I reviewed in the last issue. Both are essential contributions to the ongoing debate.