Bill 52 Update: By God’s grace, Quebec’s euthanasia bill was stalled by the opposition Liberals on Thursday, preventing it from being passed. The governing PQ party pushed hard for a vote so that it could become law before they called an election. Now they will be forced to decide whether to proceed with an election call. Either way, we can be thankful that some time has been bought. Please pray earnestly for a softening of hearts in Quebec and across this land.
Now is the Time to Keep the Euthanasia Train from Running off the Tracks!
By Mark Penninga, ARPACanada.ca: In her article “assisted suicide – what could possibly go wrong” the Globe and Mail’s Margaret Wente looks at how Belgium’s and Holland’s euthanasia laws are running off the rails. As Quebec is on the verge of legalizing euthanasia, she rightly concludes that our ethical dilemmas may only be just beginning. And that is it. End of article.
Wente’s uncomfortable musing about what kind of reasons are compelling enough to justify euthanasia shows why Canada needs to stop rushing to make decisions about life and death.
The central problem with trying to determine what justifies state-sanctioned death is that it puts the value of human life on an arbitrary scale. At the top of the scale are the terminally ill – those for whom death seems imminent. A little lower we find those with life-altering diseases. Although Canada isn’t quite ready to talk about it yet, Belgium and Holland reveal that it only takes a decade to expand the scale to include the depressed, physiologically troubled, and even infants born with a cleft-palette. By that point there is some recognition that the train has run off the rails. But what exactly was that line where life ought to be protected and valued?
Western society forgets its lessons so quickly. It was less than 70 years ago that we looked at this exact question. Dr. Leo Alexander was an investigator in the Nuremberg Trials and also contributed to writing the Nuremberg Code. In 1949 Dr. Alexander wrote an article in the New England Journal of Medicine where he revealed some telling observations from the trials:
Whatever proportions these crimes finally assumed, it became evident to all who investigated them that they started from small beginnings. The beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitudes of physicians. It started with the acceptance of the attitude, basic to the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived. This attitude in its early stages concerned itself merely with the severely and chronically sick. Gradually the sphere of those to be included in this category was enlarged to encompass the socially unproductive, the ideologically unwanted, the racially unwanted, and finally all non-Germans.
In other words, expanding euthanasia to children is not the end of the scale. This is not merely a “slippery slope.” It is a logical progression. The euthanasia movement does what it can to sterilize and even celebrate what it stands for, using terms like “dying with dignity.” But putting a white coat on the person administering the needle doesn’t change what is happening. Society is sanctioning the death of humans whom we (the strong) determine should not be worth living.
The train runs off the tracks as soon as we decide that some lives are not worth living. When we grant that human dignity is lost because of a disease, we make the value of human life into something that is arbitrary and violable. This undermines basic human rights, which presuppose inalienable worthiness of life for all humanity, regardless of our vulnerabilities.
If we don’t want Canada to look like what we see in Belgium, the time to prevent that is now, before we allow euthanasia for even a few.