Musings —02.26.2016 08:39 AM—
And, apparently, it’s now seen as a cure for other maladies by our elected representatives. My quick reaction to that well-meaning but – sorry – fatally-flawed report by Parliamentarians yesterday:
— Warren Kinsella (@kinsellawarren) February 26, 2016
There are myriad problems associated with the report, which I assume is why Canada’s impressive new Minister of Justice was so cautious in her response. Said she, properly: “We’re looking to ensure that we continue to take an empathetic approach, that we look to create balance in our approach that recognizes the autonomy of individuals, that recognizes the need to protect the vulnerable, that respects the conscience rights of medical practitioners, and that will take a little bit of time.”
It shouldn’t be necessary for me to say this, but I will: I don’t come to this difficult issue as a Roman Catholic. I approach it as a pro-choice progressive, and as the son of a physician who won the Order of Canada, in part, because of his work on the ethicality of euthanasia. As our Dad used to say to us around the kitchen table: “Doctors go to medical school to learn how to save lives, not end them. A whole new category of professionals will need to be trained and certified to euthanize people. And who will decide what is ‘terminal’?”
Therein lies the rub. Euthanasia for the “terminally ill” is dangerous, I think, because we don’t actually possess a working a definition of “terminal.” Jack Kevorkian, the “Dr. Death” who killed dozens of Americans until his own (perhaps timely) passing, defined terminal as “any disease that curtails life even for a day.”
Even a day? In the pro-death crowd, that’s actually considered conservative. The co-founder of the Hemlock Society defines it as “terminal old age.” Others declare a person terminal when death will occur in a “relatively short time.”
Given that we all start to die the moment we are born, you can perhaps see the problem here. One man’s terminal is another man’s weeks, or months, or years.
As a liberal, I have another problem with terminating those who are “terminal.” The overriding theme in every discussion of health care, nowadays, is cost. Politicians and bureaucrats — conservative ones in particular — are always obsessively looking for ways to contain health-care expenditures.
So, for example, after the passage of Oregon’s Measure 16 — which similarly legalized the oxymoronic “assisted suicide” — the state’s leading health bureaucrat declared such measures would be paid for as “comfort care” under the Oregon Health Plan. Which, coincidentally enough, provides medical coverage for hundreds of thousands of Oregonians who are poor.
Months later, Oregon then announced plans to cut back on health-care coverage for poor citizens. Killing off the sickly poor? Robustly funded. Helping them actually get better? Not so much.
Students of history will recall, here, that euthanasia – literally, “good death” – was the NSDAP’s first program of mass murder. It predated the Holocaust by a decade, in fact. The Nazis declared that their benign objective was eliminating “life unworthy of life.” That is, easing the mortal burden of Germans who had severe psychiatric, neurological, or physical disabilities – and who were similarly a financial burden on German society and the Nazi state. People liked it, at first.
And, before you are moved to quote Godwin’s Law to me, don’t. Just don’t.