Cross-sourced from ProLifeNZ
Recently, I read an article discussing the legalization of euthanasia for 12-year olds in Belgium. (BioEdge, Should 12 year old kids be allowed to choose euthanasia?) The article claims that the ‘privilege’ of euthanasia was already being bestowed upon some minors. ‘It happens so regularly that doctors need a legal framework for carrying out their job.’ Wow. Ok, so, if an illegal action is a somewhat regular occurrence, then we should make it legal. Just so that it’s not illegal anymore. That certainly bothers me. And as many of us probably heard, John Key said basically the same thing on Newstalk ZB last year – ”I think there’s a lot of euthanasia that effectively happens in our hospitals.” Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, Ian Powell, disagreed (emphasis added) –
“The situation is much more complex than that . . . Sometimes continuing a treatment can prolong the agony for a patient, and not even keep the patient alive. By not prolonging the agony . . . even though the intent is not for the patient to die, it is sometimes a consequence.”
The proposed euthanasia bill as it stands in New Zealand currently advocates the right to die of a person who is suffering from a terminal illness likely to cause death within 12 months, or from an irreversible physical or mental condition that, in the opinion of the patient, makes life unbearable. However, the bill also states that the person involved must not be coerced into the decision, and must be mentally competent.
Whilst the ethical topic is too in-depth for discussion in this article, I want to address the thought that, perhaps, things will go further …
Alright, let’s examine what the situation is in other parts of the world where euthanasia is already legal. And does it have a connection to ‘after-birth abortion’?
There have been quite a few cases of passive euthanasia for newborns with mental disabilities. The most famous could be the ‘Baby Doe’ case, an incident which occurred in Indiana in 1982. The child was born with Down Syndrome, and an esophageal defect – any orally received sustenances would not reach his stomach. Surgery would have remedied the disorder but the parents and doctor chose not to operate. Instead, he received painkillers and starved to death over the period of a few days. Such discrimination would certainly not be common for a child with no mental disability. Soon after, the Reagan administration drafted the ”Baby Doe guidelines,” which demanded life-sustaining care for handicapped newborns. But soon after, this was opposed by the American Medical Association and eventually struck down by the Supreme Court.
In The Netherlands, euthanasia is so common, and so threatening that thousands of Dutch people carry ‘Anti Euthanasia Passports’ or ‘Declarations of Life’, because they are afraid of being euthanized. The ‘Declaration of Life’ card says:
“I request that no medical treatment be withheld on the grounds that the future quality of my life will be diminished, because I believe that this is not something that human beings can judge. I request that under no circumstances a life-ending treatment be administered because I am of the opinion that people do not have the right to end life.”
Families often convince their elderly relatives that they are a burden and pressure them into being euthanized. Or the elderly will feel guilty about being a burden on their families, and thus opt for death. In the Journal of Medical Ethics 1999 by Jochemsen & Keown, studies have shown that in 1995, 900 patients, or 1 in 5, had their lives ended without a specific request. Treatments (not to be confused with palliative care) were available for 17% of these patients.
Over the other side of the world, in Oregon, a recent study from the 2008 Summary of Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act released on 3 March 2009 states:
‘while 95% of patients requested euthanasia or assisted suicide for “loss of autonomy” and 92% for “loss of dignity” only 5% (3 people) requested it for “inadequate pain control.” It should be noted here that hospice care is not as well developed in Oregon as in other US states, or the UK.’
It is also true that hospice care is extremely slack in The Netherlands, and in other countries that have legalized euthanasia. This shows a lack of care and respect for the elderly, and indeed for those who are sick with treatable illnesses and conditions such as depression. Says philosophy professor Mark Foreman,
“according to a study of the British Medical Association, the state of palliative care and hospice care in Holland is very poor. Where euthanasia is an accepted medical solution to patients’ pain and suffering, there is little incentive to develop programs which provide modern effective pain control for patients.”
The Netherlands also permits euthanasia (or, a more apt term, ‘assisted suicide’) for those who suffer from depression. Again, disabled newborns (especially those with spina bifidia) are euthanized, simply being regarded as ‘better off dead’. We hear of other cases around the world of families who wished they had had their disabled child aborted, because prenatal screenings didn’t show any fetal abnormalities. (An example that springs to mind is the case of the Oregon Down Syndrome girl, whose parents were awarded $2.9 million after their child was non-diagnosed before birth.) This certainly makes me uneasy. I don’t want a law in New Zealand which will encourage the elderly and ill to feel like a burden. I don’t want parents to have the power to decide their child is too much of a hassle to keep. I don’t want doctors to decide whether their patient should live or die. Let us keep in mind the words of Pete Du Pont,
“From the Soviet gulag to the Nazi concentration camps and the killing fields of Cambodia, history teaches that granting the state legal authority to kill innocent individuals has dreadful consequences.”