Monday, July 27, 2009

Legalized Euthanasia Empowers No One

An assumption that, at some point, life is not worthy of living, can backfire when one least expects.
Mr. McKay does not wish to see his life "cruelly extended" (assumption: suffering and pain are unnatural add-ons to life, not as much a part of life as youth and vigour). He says, "life is for the living" (assumption: the terminally ill no longer hold the moral status of "living"). And, of course, "Canada's medical system is for those who need it" (assumption: medical "need" is an entirely fungible notion).

His trump card -- or so he believes -- is his final flourish: "What possible exercise in logic or morality (my emphasis) would deny me my dignity and force me to suffer against my will?" (assumption plus corollary: dignity is a quality that only attaches to health and personal autonomy; those who willingly suffer pain and suffering with a view to a naturally prescribed death have no dignity).

All right-thinking people, religious and secular, already believe that in cases where there is no hope of recovery and a life is seeking its own natural end, life should not be unnecessarily prolonged through artificial or heroic measures. As to the deliberate, state-sanctioned and/or state-activated termination of a life because it is no longer pleasurable, or because it involves chronic caretaking and/or is burdensome to loved ones, or for any other reason we squeeze under the benign umbrella of "quality of life," that's a whole other subject: Mr. McKay's in fact.
We have up until recently assumed that we cannot control life's end. When that was the case -- just as when we used to think we could not control life's beginning -- caretaking for those at the heart of the drama was accepted as everyone's responsibility. But now we would view late-life sufferers, as we used to consider unwed mothers, as having gotten themselves "in trouble" and in need of a termination to that trouble...
Legalizing euthanasia will devalue every human life; not just those lives that euthanasia supporters find not worthy of living. In the end, euthanasia supporters too, may find themselves being coerced to take the suicide pill, rather than continue their treatment. But then - it will be too late to complain.

To find out more on euthanasia and on the threats it brings - follow this link. (It's a 30-minute speech by Alex Schadenberg, the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.)

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