Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Words Cannot Begin To Capture...

... the total disgust the following news story causes me. If there is any hint of hope emerging from this, it might be that Knight-Ridder - hardly a bastion of conservatism - seems as disgusted by it as me. Their headline is: "Euthenasia Debate in Europe focuses on children up to 12 years old."

Now I'm pretty much an absolutist on the euthenasia question in general. I oppose legalizing it in any form. But I am perfectly willing to concede that there are some cases, in which the dying person truly consents, and in which death is only a very short time away in any case, where this issue gets emotionally difficult.

But one of my long-standing beliefs about why this should remain illegal is because of the liklihood that it is merely a first step onto a very slippery slope. The Netherlands now finds itself sliding rapidly down that slope. From the article:

"Four times in recent months, Dutch doctors have pumped lethal doses of drugs into newborns they believe are terminally ill, setting off a new phase in a growing European debate over when, if ever, it's acceptable to hasten death for the critically ill."


"But the children's deaths, and the possibility that the protocol will become standard practice throughout the Netherlands, have sparked heated discussion about whether the idea of assisting adults who seek to die should ever be applied to children and others who are incapable of making, or understanding, such a request."

For the record it is not "assisted suicide" to kill someone who has no desire to be killed. There is another word for that, and I don't mean "euthenasia". And if you're too morally stunted to recognize this, I'm not going to waste my time trying to persuade you.


"Applying euthanasia to children is another step down the slope in this debate," said Henk Jochemsen, the director of Holland's Lindeboom Institute, which studies medical ethics. "Not everybody agrees, obviously, but when we broaden the application from those who actively and repeatedly seek to end their lives to those for whom someone else determines death is a better option, we are treading in dangerous territory."

Does the above really need comment? Stereotypical Nazi villains in bad movies seldom offer such an undiluted version of institutionalized evil.

Ready to go deeper into this moral cess-pool? Oh yes, it does go deeper. If you have the stomach, take a look:

"Under the Groningen protocol, if doctors at the hospital think a child is suffering unbearably from a terminal condition, they have the authority to end the child's life. The protocol is likely to be used primarily for newborns, but it covers any child up to age 12."

Think that's as low as it could go? Nope. Still more:

"A parent's role is limited under the protocol. While experts and critics familiar with the policy said a parent's wishes to let a child live or die naturally most likely would be considered, they note that the decision must be professional, so rests with doctors."

Are you getting this? Here we have parents begging the doctor they took their child to for healing, or at least relief, not to kill that same child. And it is totally within the doctor's purview whether to listen, or to ignore them and execute the child.

This is sick and wrong on so damn many levels.

And let's cast this new development into the ethical depravity the Netherlands already lives with:

"Opponents of expanding euthanasia to the young cite a recent Dutch court ruling against punishment for a doctor who injected fatal drugs into an elderly woman after she told him she didn't want to die.

The court determined that he'd made "an error of judgment," but had acted "honorably and according to conscience."

"Tut-tut, old boy. We all make mistakes. The important thing is you played God with an innocent life. That's what we medical professionals do. Next time, try to keep this sort of thing under wraps. "

Sick. Wrong. Vile. Evil. Corrupt. See? I told you words couldn't begin to capture it. Those words fall terribly short of adequately describing this cancer on whatever moral conscience remains in Europe.


Blogger Army of Mom said...

Makes me sick to think of a parent doing that to a child. No, I wouldn't want my child to suffer, but guess what? My parents were told I was going to die when I was 7. I was given three months to live. They were told to prepare to watch me wither away. I guess I should be glad that they didn't have that option of "putting me to sleep" like we did my beloved childhood dog who was suffering.

5:16 PM  
Blogger TFB said...

There is nothing I can add to your fine piece but, ditto. I could not agree with you more.

9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to bring abortion into the issue, but I just wanted to point out that it's part of the same downward spiral that we are already on. You see, I would have been killed as well if it was left up to my doctors and it would have been perfectly legal and without consequence (at least for the doctors). The only difference is that I was still in the womb. My mother's doctors assessed that I would be severely retarded, and scared her so much that she almost considered abortion just to spare me the terrible pain that I would have had to endure. Fortunately my father intervened, though they tried to usher him out of the room, and I was born perfectly healthy. Currently I am 23 years old, married with two healthy children, and relatively successful in the IT industry. I only wonder how many times that has happened without a father to intercede.

11:33 AM  

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