The Lady in Blue

I don’t often return to subjects that I have recently discussed. But in this case I feel compelled to do so. In a recent portentous decision, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York struck down that state’s ban on assisted suicide. That decision follows on the heels of California’s Ninth Circuit, which lately struck down Washington State’s ban on assisted suicide. Just think of it. This means that in 12 states in the union—three in the east, nine in the west—assisted suicide is now a constitutionally protected liberty. Both of these cases grew out of the 1992 landmark decision Casey v. Planned Parenthood, which some prolife observers hailed as a partial victory because it allowed Pennsylvania to retain certain restrictions on abortion. But it was that decision which makes abortion an express liberty under the Fourteenth Amendment. Casey defined liberty as the right of citizens to make up their own minds about "intimate and personal choices" that are "central to personal dignity and autonomy." These two recent cases applied the Casey reasoning to assisted suicide, arguing that, like abortion, this option "constitutes a choice central to personal dignity and autonomy" and thus deserves "protection from unwarranted government interference." It is now clear that the abortion debate is about much more than just abortion. Justice Scalia, in his dissent from Casey, warned that the Court’s decision could in time encompass "homosexual sodomy, polygamy, adult incest, and suicide." He was prophetic. In the recent West Coast case the court argued that liberty includes someone else making the decision for assisted suicide when the patient cannot. That's euthanasia. The court further agreed that liberty includes protecting homosexual sodomy. If the Supreme Court agrees, there can be no barrier to gay marriages. Christian scholar Russell Hittinger believes that if the Supreme Court affirms the decision of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the culture war is over. If liberty is defined so broadly as to allow us to do anything we choose to do, then Christian truth will be barred from the public arena. That’s why I view this as one of the gravest developments of the past 20 years. And it may all hinge upon one key vote. Years ago at a law school lecture on assisted suicide a woman in a dark blue suit raised a troubling question: "If Americans accept the right to abortion," she asked, "when will they accept the right to die?" That lecture took place eight years ago, and it is that precise issue that will soon be before the Supreme Court. And the woman who raised it— the lady in the blue suit— was none other than Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Justice Ginsberg will be the swing vote in answering her own question. If she answers it as expected, then indeed we are entering a very dark age. But as Christians we do not despair. God is still on the throne and can move the hearts of those in power. Let us earnestly pray that our country may yet be spared. Pray for the lady in blue and for her fellow justices—that they will see the folly of their ways and choose life, not just for the unborn but for the elderly, the sick, and the infirmed—all of whom are infinitely precious in His sight.


Chuck Colson


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