The following article is from the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Does God Exist? Used by permission.


Sir Edward Downs was known by many people as the former director of Britain’s Royal Opera. He recently got attention because of the mutual suicide of him and his wife in a Zurich clinic. Downs was in good health, but was 85 with weak hearing and limited vision. His 74-year-old wife Joan was dying of pancreatic and liver cancer.

The two of them paid $7,000 each to a clinic that facilitates suicide. They drank a lethal barbiturate, lay down beside each other and died together. Their death has stirred a great deal of controversy, being called highly romantic, highly civilized, and “typically brave and courageous.” This event has stirred all kinds of reports and claims. One study in the Netherlands found that one in four doctors said they had killed patients without an explicit request. The growing costs of medical care and the desire not to bankrupt their families is at the basis of much of this. We would suggest the need for an understanding of the value of human life, at all stages, is a major issue in our world today. Source: Time, August 3, 2009, page 64.