Tag Archives: euthanasia

Tom Stringham: Bloodlust in Europe

Even murder can become mundane. Theo Boer, a Dutch ethicist who sat on a euthanasia review committee for nine years, recently recounted in the Daily Mail some of his reasons for reversing his support for the practice of consensual killing. Here is one chilling excerpt:

Under the name End of Life Clinic, the Dutch Right to Die Society NVVE founded a network of travelling euthanizing doctors. Whereas the law presupposes (but does not require) an established doctor-patient relationship, in which death might be the end of a period of treatment and interaction, doctors of the End of Life Clinic have only two options: administer life-ending drugs or send the patient away.

On average, these physicians see a patient three times before administering drugs to end their life. Hundreds of cases were conducted by the End of Life Clinic. The group shows no signs of being satisfied even with these developments. They will not rest until a lethal pill is made available to anyone over 70 years who wishes to die. Some slopes truly are slippery.

There are two wretched facts that accuse these “travelling euthanizing doctors”. The first is the dark reality that they exist. Real physicians who, like all of their colleagues, have spent a decade of toil and sweat in training on the methods that give, protect and save life. Now they spend their careers ending it. Many doctors are not willing to kill as an exception; these doctors are willing to do it as a rule.

Second, and extending from the first, is Boer’s observation that these doctors of death are restless—restless for more “patients” even as body counts climb 15% every year; restless until the Dutch parliament expands the prescription for their morbid medicine.

The human reality underlying this wretchedness is a vice which tempts like any other. It is not a vice we ordinarily indulge, but as we see, it afflicts even the civilized and educated among us: it is the desire to kill. Appetites only need whetting. For someone with a murderous predilection, the first taste might be one suffering cancer patient, an exception under the rule of a supposedly unslippery law.

Well-meaning euthanasia laws are the “infinitely small wedged-in lever” Leo Alexander warned of half a century ago in the aftermath of a darker period of Dutch history. As euthanasia’s death tolls enter the order of magnitude of that era’s, let us consider that bloodlust is not far from our hearts.

The Hustings

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Tom Stringham: Assisted suicide and the slippery slope

In defiance of federal law, Quebec has become the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass legislation allowing physician-assisted suicide.

While euthanasia is a life-and-death matter, the new law is more grey than black-and-white, having been designed to assuage the concerns of its critics by imposing tight restrictions on the circumstances under which a person may be appropriately assisted in suicide. An adult Quebecker, who must be incurably ill and suffering unbearable pain, will be required to request euthanasia multiple times while in a state of good mental health in order to be considered for “medical aid in dying”, as the bill describes the practice.

According to the government in Quebec, these restrictions will ensure that the procedure will be infrequent, carried out only in exceptional circumstances.

But we have heard this all before. When Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002, the restrictions on the practice were almost identical to those in the Quebec bill: only adults in good mental health who were incurably ill were eligible to be injected lethally. But over time, according to observers, Belgians became used to the practice and became a little looser with the rules: for example, some doctors would waive wait times between the request for euthanasia and its execution.

In 2013, Belgium removed the age requirement for euthanasia. Now terminally ill children of any age, including children who would not be of age to drive, vote or perhaps even babysit, can elect to be killed by a physician if they are capable of requesting it.

The story is similar in the Netherlands. In 2001, the country expanded eligibility for euthanasia to teenagers. In 2005, the Groningen Protocol legitimized the practice of euthanizing infants (non-voluntarily) and small children if their prognosis is sufficiently hopeless. Currently, terminal illness is no longer a requirement. Any person over 70 who is “tired of living” may seek an arranged death.

The slope has proved slippery in these two countries when it comes to legalized killing. According to some professionals, “euthanasia has moved from being a measure of last resort to being one of early intervention.”

A Belgian parliamentarian in 2002 would have assured you that the government had no intentions of making children eligible for euthanasia. Dutch medical associations in the 1990s would have insisted euthanasia was a method of last resort, only for people with incurable, unbearable illnesses. Do we have any good reason to think that the foresight of Quebec politicians in 2014 is any better?

The Hustings

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Barbara Kay: A tone deaf return to Auschwitz

Let’s say, hypothetically, that nuclear energy was in its infancy, and that you were not only an expert on the practical end of things, having set up and run several installations yourself, but you were also nuclear energy’s most public figure on the issue—not just nationally, but internationally—and were eager to communicate your enthusiasm to somewhat skeptical or uninformed leaders in traditional energy fields.

Let’s say you decided to hold an instructional conference to which all these potential converts would be invited (along with spouses, and complete with good hotels and fine dining to sweeten the invitation) to reflect on the issues around nuclear energy and to reassure the uncommitted regarding its potential dangers to society.

Where would you hold such a conference? Hiroshima? Fukushima? Three-Mile Island? Chernobyl? Or none of the above? Don’t laugh: This is not a trick question.

Dr. Wim Distelmans, who is the leading practitioner of euthanasia in Belgium, and who has also chaired the Belgium Control and Evaluation Commission since euthanasia was legalized in Belgium in 2000 (a commission unique in its inglorious record of never having investigated a single death), is organizing an instructional tour about euthanasia for health care professionals to take place in … Auschwitz.

Yes, that Auschwitz, which Dr Distelmans describes as an “inspiring” venue in which to “clarify confusion about euthanasia.”

The words “tone deaf” only scratch the surface of this incredible decision. If there is one parallel in the world that euthanasia proponents want to put themselves at infinite distance from, it is the obscenity of the Holocaust, which, we must never forget, would not have happened if the mass killings had not begun with individual “mercy” killings of the disabled and mentally challenged.

The first disabled child was killed in 1939, then more and, no mass protests having ensued, more. By 1945, 5,000 sick or “idiot” children had been accorded exactly the blessed release from their deficits that constitute the main selling point for the modern euthanasia movement.

Dr Distelmans is no Nazi, nor am I accusing him of nefarious intentions analogous to those that advanced the evils of the Nazi regime. But in his failure to understand his willing association with Auschwitz University, alma mater of Dr. Josef Mengele, Dr Distelmans is displaying a lack of judgment so bizarrely offensive that his judgmental competence in all things should legitimately fall under suspicion.

The Hustings

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