Since when do we kill the patient to cure the disease? Yet this is what happens with abortion and euthanasia.
The arguments for abortion and euthanasia run very similar courses. Protagonists for both causes plead the hard cases, tugging on heart strings and then apply the verdict to all cases.
What has to be recognised is that in this day of rights, and litigation on the basis of discrimination, once the day is open, there will be nothing to stop the flood from pouring through. Safeguards failed miserably for abortion and they are failing miserably for euthanasia.
When we hold the view that human life begins at birth, we will be blinkered, thinking that there are two separate arguments with different parameters. This is not so.
Albert Schweitzer said “If a man loses reverence for any part of life, then he will lose his reverence for all life.” This became all too apparent when doctors and lawyers in pre-war Germany came to agree that there was a life not worthy of living. People became expendable based on the precepts and ideologies of others.
In NZ, 90% of babies with a positive amniocentesis test are aborted notwithstanding that the test is not 100% accurate. These children are killed on the basis of a medical condition and their perceived quality of life (is this mercy killing). Or are they killed because the parent/s cannot, or do not want to provide the extra care that will need to be provided.
If society is capable of killing a child in utero at 39 weeks then when will it sanction infanticide or the euthanising of the very young. This is what is already being suggested.
Because of the present limits of such detection methods, most birth defects are not discovered until birth. If a child were not declared alive until three days after birth, then all parents could be allowed the choice….the doctor could allow the child to die if the parents so choose and save a lot of misery and suffering.
James Watson, Nobel Laureate. Children from the Laboratory. AMA Prism ch3,p.2 May73
Some of his colleagues disagree. Three days is too short a time. They would prefer thirty days after birth.
“The situation of a newborn baby is very different from that of the same baby even a few weeks later…. At birth the baby is only a potential human being and at that point it is surely the humane and sensible thing that the life of the baby with any obvious defect, whether of body or brain, should be quietly snuffed out by the doctor or midwife.”
Miss Barbara Smoker, President of the National secular Society and vice-Chairman of the British Humanist Association, as reported in The Times, January 22, 1973.
Today we find that the arguments are being applied to the aged and infirm and that all too often, society accepts the line and is happy to comply, or acquiesces because it seems cruel to expect a person to live through suffering.
Consider the next two cases and then re-read them replacing the infant with an elderly person:
[framed_box] Baby Doe of Bloomington, Indiana. He had Down’s Syndrome at birth but he also had a connection between his food pipe and wind-pipe. There were several surgeons within 50 miles who could have repaired it. Otherwise, the baby could not be fed. Because of the down’s Syndrome, however, the parents refused permission to operate or administer IV feedings or any other treatment. This decision was upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court, and the baby starved to death. [/framed_box]
[framed_box] Baby Jane Doe of New York, was born in 1983 with spina bifida and a potential hydrocephalus. Good medical care would have mandated surgical closure of the spinal defect and placement of a shunt to prevent the hydrocephalus. Upon being told that there was a risk that the baby would be retarded the parents opted not to operate. The skin healed naturally and the parents consented to the shunt. Unbeknownst to them the federal government and a private attorney had sought authority for the surgery without parental consent. A federal judge had ruled that the parents had the right to allow the child to die from what would have been painful infections.
In these cases careful heed need to be paid to the actions of the authorities, whether they chose to support the intrinsic right to life. In both cases cited above, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Assoc along with other medical groups and the Courts backed the right to withhold the necessaries of life.
We cite these cases to enable a fuller comparison with the infamous German euthanasia programme. Hopefully the comparison will show how far we have slipped down the slippery slope towards eugenics based on our ability to contribute to society. The Courts in many countries have ruled in favour of withholding food and water from patients who are unable to fend for themselves. In Holland it is reckoned that less than 50% of euthanasia cases are voluntary and within the guidelines.
NOTE: Voice for Life is opposed to all forms of euthanasia regardless of the guidelines in place.
REASON ABORTION EUTHANASIA
Usefulness A burden A burden
Wanted Unwanted Unwanted
Degree of perfection Handicapped Handicapped
Age Too young Too young
Intelligence Not yet conscious Not reallyconscious
Place of residence In the womb In a nursing home
‘Meaningful life’ “does not yet have” “no longer has”
Cost Too poor Too poor
Numbers Too many children Too many old folks
Marital status Unmarried Widowed
Abortion: Questions and Answers. Dr & Mrs JC Wilke, 1989, page 224
Euthanasia in Germany did not begin with a degree from Hitler’s office. We suggest that the people would not have tolerated such an affrontory. The landscape was changed to allow the introduction of such major changes. One paradigm change is to change the sanctity of life ethic with a quality of life ethic. In NZ we are concerned with our standard of living but pay little heed to > 18,500 physician assisted and state funded deaths. We have been duped into accepted that quality of life is preferable to life itself.
Dr William Brennan investigated the destructive use of nomenclature in his book:
Dehumanising the Vulnerable: When Word Games Take Lives. 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 shift in emphasis in the basic attitudes of the physicians. It started with the acceptance, basic in the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived. This attitude in 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.
Current happenings in NZ show that we are not so far from those early days in Germany. We have abortion on request (despite being illegal), there have been a string of assisted suicides, and there have been efforts to legalise a certain category under the guise of “death with dignity”. The Bill would have placed doctors in the position of being able to kill their patients without fear of reprisals under the law.
Already we have our very own non-person category. At this juncture, only the unborn child legally fits the bill but the NZ Medical Association may have others in mind. In 1993 the Council produced a report entitled “Persistent Vegetative State and the Withdrawal of Food and Fluid.” This report contains some amazing statements but we will start with the title. In the development of the human, there is no stage where we are vegetable. The term is dehumanising in itself, after all we are people and not vegetables. An article in Seminars in Neurology (March 1984) asserts that patients in “a persistent vegetative state” have “ceased to be persons and are merely living organisms.” Neurologist Ronald Cranford envisions a time when PVS will be equated with “nonpersonhood.”
Such thinking is obviously paralleled in the NZMC as it considers that there should be a separate category for patients in this state since they are neither nor like other living patients. The Council goes further to state that they are confused as to the standing of the person because there is “no widely accepted practical definition of what a person is.” The Council is therefore unable to substantiate if a PVS patient meets this definition; “our arguments suggest that the PVS patient is in a unique category: he is not dead but neither is he in any ethically interesting sense, alive.”