Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Euthanasia and Contempt for Human Life

Wesley J. Smith has a good post here documenting how legalizing euthanasia leads to an increasingly callous attitude toward human life. Euthanasia was legalized in the Netherlands in 1973 and by 2010 the Dutch Medical Society is lobbying for the complete legalization (i.e. removal of all prohibitions of) non-voluntary euthanasia. It is already widely tolerated and goes unpunished.
Self-delusion is rampant in the euthanasia movement. Most proponents recognize that it is inherently dangerous to legalize killing. But they desperately want to believe that they can control the grim reaper. Thus, they continue to peddle the nonsense that "guidelines will protect against abuse" despite overwhelming empirical evidence to the contrary.

Euthanasia has been around long enough and practiced sufficiently enough for us to detect a pattern. Killing is sold to the public as a last resort justified only in cases where nothing else can be done to alleviate suffering. But once the reaper is allowed through the door, the categories of killable people expand steadily toward the acceptance of death on demand.

The classic example is the Netherlands, where doctors have been allowed to euthanize patients since 1973. Dutch death regulations require that euthanasia be strictly limited to the sickest patients, for whom nothing but extermination will alleviate overwhelming suffering — a concept in Dutch law known as force majeur. But once mercy killing was redefined as being good in a few cases rather than being bad in all circumstances, it didn’t take long for the protective guidelines to be viewed widely as impediments to be overcome instead of important protections to be obeyed.

Thus, supposedly ironclad protections against abuse — such as the doctrine of force mejeur and the stipulation that patient give multiple requests for euthanasia — quickly ceased meaningfully to constrain mercy killing. As a consequence, Dutch doctors now legally kill terminally ill people who ask for it, chronically ill people who ask for it, disabled people who ask for it, and depressed people who ask for it.

Euthanasia has also entered the pediatric wards, where eugenic infanticide has become common even though babies cannot ask to be killed. According to a 1997 study published in the British medical journal The Lancet, approximately 8 percent of all Dutch infant deaths result from lethal injections. The babies deemed killable are often disabled and thus are thought not to have a "livable life." The practice has become so common that 45 percent of neonatologists and 31 percent of pediatricians who responded to Lancet surveys had killed babies.

It gets worse: Repeated studies sponsored by the Dutch government have found that doctors kill approximately 1,000 patients each year who have not asked for euthanasia. This is not only a violation of every guideline, but an act that Dutch law considers murder. Nonvoluntary euthanasia has become so common that it even has a name: "Termination without request or consent."

Despite this carnage, Dutch doctors are very rarely prosecuted for such crimes, and the few that are brought to court are usually exonerated. Moreover, even if a doctor is found guilty, he or she is almost never punished in any meaningful way, nor does the murderer face discipline by the Dutch Medical Society. For example, in 2001, a doctor was convicted of murdering an 84-year-old patient who had not asked to be killed. Prosecutors demanded a nine-month suspended probation (!), yet even this brush — it can’t even be called a slap — on the wrist was rejected by the trial judge who refused to impose any punishment. Not to worry. The appellate court decided to get tough: It imposed a one-week suspended sentence on the doctor for murder.

Even such praising with faint damnation isn’t enough for the Dutch Medical Association. As a result of this and the handful of other non-punished murder convictions of doctors who engaged in termination without request or consent, the organization is lobbying to legalize non-voluntary euthanasia. Along these same lines — and demonstrating that the culture of death recognizes no limits — the day after the Dutch formally legalized euthanasia, the country’s minister of health advocated the provision of suicide pills to the elderly who do not qualify for killing under Dutch law.

Read the rest here. Euthanasia breeds pride and contempt for our fellow human beings. It is a deeply corrupting and evil practice and will destroy societies in which it is permitted.

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