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.