The Washington, D.C. City Council has voted to legalize assisted suicide. According to reports, it will not be vetoed by the mayor. In order for it to become law, it will need to be approved by Congress.

Assisted suicide is profoundly immoral, stridently unethical, and deeply disturbing on a whole host of levels. For starters, it’s not hard to imagine scenarios where doctors and family members will pressure a mentally fragile patient into making a “compassionate” decision to end their lives. After all, the world’s utilitarian logic would argue, assisted suicide would keep medical costs down and make the lives of the patient’s family members easier.

But these kinds of selfish considerations only scratch the surface of the evil of assisted suicide. What makes assisted suicide genuinely sinister is that it strips away all sacredness from the gift of life, a gift that we have been freely given. Who are we to treat life and death with such irreverence and ingratitude? How can we possibly know the plans that God has for that person’s soul in the remaining months (or years—who’s to say?) of their life? Can anyone determine the value of the thoughts, prayers, and words of wisdom, guidance, and love that the patient could experience and share with others before their natural death? Who are we to cut this miracle of existence short?

This leads to one final point that I’ll make. One of the greatest joys that my wife and I have experienced over the last year has been the opportunity to visit with Louise, a 92-year-old woman residing in an assisted-living facility. Having met her through our church a few years ago, she has since become one of our best friends. Her wit, feistiness, and unique Italian sensibilities bring us and all those around her great joy. These days, Louise is getting weaker due to cancer in her lungs, but her plucky spirit won’t be deterred. She’s not shy about sharing her strongly-held opinions and teasing us with a friendly laugh, and her memories of growing up in New York City are a priceless peek into history. When our visits end, she can’t help but thank us over and over again, often with tears welling up in her eyes, imploring us to come again soon.

Would the merciful thing to do to those who appear to be close to death be to help kill themselves because they are suffering? Or could it be that God has a higher purpose for life in all its stages, made manifest whenever we take the time to visit and care for those who are in the twilight of their lives? As more and more states legalize assisted suicide, our country heads further down the road of cold, calculated callousness to human life. Let’s pray for an outpouring of mercy on those at the end of their lives, that they may be shown mercy by us and that we may be open to the blessings we receive from them. And let’s do all we can to fight these assisted suicide political initiatives in all of our home states.