Belgian “Doctors” To Kill Kids They Think They Can’t Cure

Belgium has discovered a new way to end the tears of children.
Belgium has just made it legal for “doctors” to kill children. Not those who haven’t yet escaped the womb—those kids have been fair game for any quack with a sharp needle and a med school diploma for quite some time. I mean it’s now open season on ambulatory children.

According to one news report, the new law “allows minors to ask [to be killed] on the grounds that their illness is terminal, that they are in great pain and that there is no treatment to alleviate their distress…The Belgian legislation does not set an age limit but states that the patient has to be conscious of their situation and understand the meaning of a request for [a killing].”

Not to minimize the horror of illness, but the reasoning here is faulty. To say an illness is “terminal” is to claim that somebody has made an accurate prediction conditional on a complicated set of premises, predictions which are often phrased like this: “Given that everything continues in the same manner, the child will die in six to eight months.” Since the premises are themselves subject to great uncertainty (how many illnesses continue in the ‘same manner’?), the prediction usually has attached to it greater “plus-or-minuses” than is thought. In other words, forecasts of the demise of patients, especially children, are not always accurate, and doctors, particularly those too ready with the ax, are too confident of their own abilities. Doctors make many mistakes—and in the cases of “mercy” killing, they will be unrecoverable mistakes.

Even if doctors were infallible, it is still unclear whether there is no treatment to alleviate suffering. And this is because the “suffering”, as that term is used legally, is not restricted to pain but includes mental distress.

There is for example the case of “Nathan”, a woman who so wanted to pretend to be a man that she had a simulacrum of a man’s sexual organs grafted onto her body (the euphemism is “gender reassignment” surgery; this was in Belgium). Her body rejected the tissue which caused, or so she said, “unbearable psychological suffering.” Unbearable is that which cannot be born. She therefore was legally able to consult a man ready to kill, one Wim Distelmans, and this person killed “Nathan.” The killer told one newspaper “that the decision was made after six months of struggling with the issue and that it wasn’t easy.” The difficulty of the decision—heaven forfend it is easy—is offered as justification of the killing.

What does it mean to claim a child who is “eligible” for state-sponsored killing is “conscious of their situation” and “understands the meaning of a request” to be killed? It was until recently accepted that children were not entirely conscious of most situations beyond the playground, and therefore could not hope to understand what it meant to ask to be killed. No longer.

An open letter by Belgian “paediatricians” supporting the new law made an argument—which is in the running for Most Ludicrous Argument of the Year—said of children considering their illness, “minors develop very quickly a great maturity, to the point where they are often better able to reflect and express themselves on life than healthy people.” Heretofore, people, especially children, in great distress were generally reckoned not to be clear thinkers. Now it is claimed they reason more clearly than the unburdened.

Since “distress” can be mental, and because a child may put in a request for his own demise, and following the trend of decreasing parental “rights” (or control) over their own children in Enlightened countries, I make the following verifiable prediction. Within five years of the anniversary of this law, the state will have killed at least one child in opposition to its parents’ wishes or without their knowledge. “I’m sorry Mr and Mrs Peeters, we had to kill your son. We judged it best for everyone.” There will probably be court cases in which lawyers for the state argue for custody of the child in order that they might kill it (for its own good).

Scoff if you like, but there is already a certain amount of fishiness attending the legalization of the killing of adults, especially in the murky area of “permissions.” Consider that reports are that in “2012, Belgium recorded 1,432 cases of euthanasia — a 25% increase from 2011.”

Advice: if you ever have cause to vacation in Belgium and you feel yourself or your child “coming down with something”, whatever you do, don’t call a “doctor.”

43 Comments

  1. Not at all unexpected. “Mercy killing” has been quite popular in Europe. I do wonder why we need to involve physicians at all. (Also, any doctor errors in this would be “unknown” first, “unrecoverable” second.) An effective, yet painless, cocktail of ingredients readily available to the child could be posted countrywide and the child could simply mix the ingredients and end his own suffering. Or the parents could. If we are going to let parents and children make this decision, why not find a simple way to carry it out that doesn’t involve physicians?

    Almost certainly a court will rule against parents. I heard that the child whose mother drown trying to save him from Castro and Cuba, whom the ACLU “loving” returned to Cuba is now singing the praises of communism and his wonderful life. Parents know nothing of what is best for their children.

  2. If offered a choice between death or torture, which would you pick? Torture?

    Would that depend on whether it was torture for a minute? (yes! definitely!), an hour? (yes), a day? (still yes, but I can imagine having to think about it), a month? (mmm…), a year? Ten years?

    And then at the end of the torture session, you get a lottery in which you’ll probably get death, anyway. So, 6 months of torture followed by probable (but not certain) death, or immediate death? You would still choose to be tortured?

    The problem with these moral questions on euthanasia is that people usually forget to mention the reason why people are asking to be euthanised – because their life has become an endless agonising torment from which they cannot escape.

    The only distinction between torturing a child to death and what is being proposed here is what might be called ‘moral agency’. Something that would happen on its own but you have the power to stop, is morally different from exactly the same event that would not normally happen on its own that you have the power to cause. You figure, you didn’t actually *cause* it, so you’re not morally responsible for the consequence. It’s still your decision, but the “take no action” option is different, somehow.

    It’s a hard choice. Everyone would like there to be another option. And mistakes will be made. We don’t have perfect knowledge of the future. But if you choose torment and misery for someone else, in the hopes that a reprieve might turn up, and it doesn’t – how can you ever make it up to them for what you’ve put them through?
    Doesn’t human fallibility cut in both directions?

    “Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”
    J.S. Mill, On Liberty.

    People can give informed consent – even children. While children do not understand everything (who does?), there is much that they can and do understand, and if they do then they should be allowed the choice. Or if not, their parents act for them.

    And if there are people who would genuinely hope for merciful end to their suffering, should they do unto others as they would have others do unto them?

    It’s not a Christian attitude, of course. Who can forget 2 Samuel 1:1-16? Death to the euthanizers! But then, not everyone is a Christian. Do you get to make the moral choices for everyone?

  3. Nellius: Answer to your first question–If there is a chance I would live, torture. If I am probably going to die anyway, it really does not matter in this life. Atheists believe there is no afterlife so it exactly the same in either choice. Once you’re dead, there is nothing. It’s over. Does not matter. If your religion in some way says you will remember the torture and it will affect the afterlife, then it could matter. How many religions say this, I don’t know.

    Let me rephrase your example–your child is kidnapped. You may get your child back but he/she could have been raped and brutalized. Or your child can be killed and dumped in your front yard. Which do you choose?

    You don’t have to “make it up to them” for what you put them through. If they don’t like the choice, they can take their own life when they reach adulthood. You can’t make people live if they don’t want to. If we throw in a religion that says the torture remains with them in the afterlife, then maybe in the afterlife, it would matter. But not here. Interestingly enough, this would make an excellent defense for people who kill their children to prevent them from having a miserable life later on……Or for euthanizing children who were very badly abused by their parents and probably will never recover.

  4. So, a person with a somewhat reasonable belief in SinterKlass is able to understand the implications of voluntarily passing through the velvet curtain?

  5. Don’t forget that this is just another state control question in disguise, although not much of a disguise. The same state that will restrict morphine might decide that euthanasia is acceptable. My fellow commenteers (not a typo) are debating subtleties that will simply not be used in the official execution (also not a typo) of policy. In threading the thin line of Godwin’s law I have to say that this has happened before: what starts out as a privilege soon becomes an obligation and finally a subjugation.

  6. Sheri,

    If there is a chance I would live, torture. If I am probably going to die anyway, it really does not matter in this life.

    Generally. a person under torture wants out NOW and everything else is irrelevant. That’s the premise behind torture for information gain. During the Spanish Inquisition quite a few chose death by fire merely to gain temporary relief. People has accepted it when temporary (a trip to the dentist, having a gangrenous limb sawed off sans anesthetic) but eventually it gets to you.

    It strikes me as grossly unfair to condemn someone to it because it might just simply go away by itself. They shoot horses don’t they? But people: suck it up.

  7. DAV–I object to shooting horses and most forms of “putting down” animals. Most of the time it’s to relieve the suffering of the owner, not the animal. I don’t have to desire to make sure things “don’t suffer” by killing them. It makes no difference whether the horse suffers or not–when he’s dead, he’s dead. It’s over. Does not matter.

    “If offered a choice between death or torture, which would you pick?” was the question, which I read to mean I was choosing Before either occurred. Yes, some people prefer death to torture while in the middle of the torture. Some do not. You see that in prisoners of war and kidnap victims. Some hang on, some do not.

    Are we wrong to have to suffer? Don’t know–maybe you can take it up with God. If you don’t believe in God, then it matters not unless you have the misfortune to recover.

  8. Consider: The Romans (and before them the Phoenicians, who apparently came up with the idea of crucifixion as a torture and/or tortured form of execution) would break the legs, or use a spear, to finish off, or verify death of, a condemned just to get it over with.

    When the whole idea is to kill someone as miserably & sadistically as possible and in that process the tortured condemned is eventually euthanized for the selfish reasons of the killers, then, that miserable soul is getting off easier than someone subjected to some terminal natural condition that imposes as much or even more misery for much much longer.

    (And we’re assuming the condition IS miserable AND IS terminal with 100% certainty.)

    There seems to me to be something fundamentally inhumane & inconsistent about prolonging someone’s dying life in misery–and promoting that as some kind of noble act–when doing so exceeds the trauma & suffering imposed by an intentionally sadistic execution method.

    And if not in misery, how about unconscious & dying with no chance of regaining consciousness before death–what “life” is really lost there if the inevitable end is rescheduled earlier?

    Very few of us would ever consider allowing an animal, a beloved family pet, to go thru any of that.

    And arguments from faith depend on the particular variant involved — many “Christian” denominations DO endorse some euthanasia scenarios, so there’s no consistency under the banner “Christian” values.

    SEPARATE from debating the general principle of euthanasia is the secondary aspect of administering its implementation — assuming for the sake of argument euthanasia IS OK in specific circumstances, does legalizing* it remain OK if the authorities cannot properly administer & regulate/control its implementation to prevent abuse?

    * Contrary to Brigg’s assertion, “Belgium has just made it legal for “doctors” to kill children.” the fact is that only the Senate approved the legislation, which must be approved by the lower house to become law, which, however likely, is not a certainty. Which reminds one of a legal principle:

    Falsus in unum, falsus in omnibus.

    False in one thing, false in everything.

    The appearance of tabloid-like exaggerated sensationalism & “knee-jerk jumping to conclusions” seems to be becoming rather common here prompting a variation: Falsus in omnibus, vero fidelis in unum (false in everything however true in this thing), which is a tough sell…as is restoring one’s credibility…about as easy as un-ringing a bell….

  9. Scott Adams father recently passed, and he posted a blog about how the government essentially demanded the torturing of his father to death.

    http://dilbert.com/blog/entry/i_hope_my_father_dies_soon/

    He wrote a follow up post as well.

    http://dilbert.com/blog/entry/the_mythical_49/

    I think he makes a good point:
    ———————————-
    If you ask citizens whether or not they believe doctors should have the legal right to kill terminally ill people, or some version of that question, of course you get a lot of resistance. I can easily imagine 49% of the public being opposed to a question that leads the witness in that way.

    Now suppose you ask this way: “If you are terminally ill and expect to be in terrible pain for months, if not years, do you want the government to decide what healthcare options are available to you, or should that decision be made by some combination of you, your doctor and your loved ones?”
    ———————————-

    Now in the case of children, such a question becomes doubly difficult…

  10. what “life” is really lost there if the inevitable end is rescheduled earlier?

    What indeed, given the inevitable end of everyone? Even if we kill someone at 6 instead of 60, that is less than an eyeblink in the immensity of cosmic time.

    The technical term, preferred to the scare quotes for “life” is lebensunwertes Leben, or “life unworthy of life,” a.k.a., “quality of life.”

  11. YOS,

    I would say the degree to which the inevitable end is rescheduled matters.

    Rescheduling by decades is not the same as rescheduling by a year or two which is not the same as rescheduling by a few months.

    If you are only talking about a few months, “quality of life” is not that much of an issue.

  12. the government essentially demanded the torturing of his father to death.

    Forbidding the murder of an ill person ought not be conflated with actively torturing said person. This is an awfully tendentious equivocation. The key to understanding evaluations of moral agency is in recognizing that it’s the evaluation of the morality of an agent’s actions. It could only really be confusing if someone who ignores morality itself, that is, that an action can be consistent with or opposed to goodness, and considers only practical ends from an eliminative materialist perspective. Few would take this to its logical conclusion, though, and suggest that there is no difference between actively murdering a man with a hatchet and losing control of one’s car due to ice and hitting a telephone pole which then brains a fellow on a park bench.

    Now suppose you ask this way: “If you are terminally ill and expect to be in terrible pain for months, if not years, do you want the government to decide what healthcare options are available to you, or should that decision be made by some combination of you, your doctor and your loved ones?”

    “Healthcare”? That’s an odd word for “cyanide pill”. The latter is an actively fraudulent question. The former uses the words which better describe what’s actually proposed rather than eschewing them for the sake of achieving a preferred result.

  13. From Ken “…if the authorities cannot properly administer & regulate/control its implementation to prevent abuse?” You have brought a smile to my face, a macabre smile, but a smile none the less. Who are these authorities that you trust with such power? The question here should not be the individual’s choice of life and death since in all but very rare circumstances that power remains with us all, but the attempt to transfer that power to the state.

    YOS, subtle as always.

  14. Morphine, anyone? Yes, there are limits to pain control, but that does seem an obvious issue no one here is considering. This is NOT similar to torture. Unless the torturer is kind enough to dope up the victim first.

  15. The will to live is atavistic, the wish to live another matter altogether. I think the civilised man will choose his own time, and his reasons are entirely his own affair. As to children, it does not require vast experience of life to understand that death is far preferable to a future of suffering and incapacity.

    Life in itself is a neutral element, and depends for its worth on what the individual and external circumstance bring to it.

  16. Life in itself is a neutral element, and depends for its worth on what the individual and external circumstance bring to it.

    That has got to be the most ominously creepy thing I’ve heard in years. It’s the textual representation of the soulless smile of a eugenicist (read: sociopath). It’s the pretext to the clearing away of Margaret Sanger’s “human weeds” or YOS’s lebensunwertes leben. If life’s value is something to be counted, then it’s not the votes that count but who counts the votes.

  17. Again, I am wondering if some of the arguments presented here allow a mentally ill parent to kill their child based on the parent’s belief the child is suffering. Also, how does one define “suffering” for another? Is an Alzheimer patient suffering or are all the people around him suffering? Many parents whose children have cancer say their child is a trooper and very upbeat–do we override that belief and say it’s just the child trying to please the parent? Should a parent talk their child into believing death is best for the child when the parent is the one who wants the outcome? Are we killing to relieve our own discomfort? How do you know?

    All of these questions are going to come up when you start making an irreversible decision for or with another human being.

  18. Some children suffer at the thought of having to do chores… Also, there is more than a whiff of what is known in some parts of the world as honor killing.

  19. Ben has clearly misunderstood me: I made it quite plain that the decision whether to live or die, must rest entirely with the individual. It is he alone who can assess the worth of his life.

  20. How long before those in “unbearable suffering” but are unable to realize it are sacrificed on the medical altar?

  21. “Again, I am wondering if some of the arguments presented here allow a mentally ill parent to kill their child based on the parent’s belief the child is suffering.”

    No. It has to be informed consent, which the mentally ill cannot generally give for the same reason children can’t. (Although caveats are required for mental illnesses that don’t affect that particular judgement.)

    “Also, how does one define “suffering” for another?”

    One doesn’t. It’s always up to the individual. That’s why “Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.” Nobody else can say.

    However, for those cases where the individual can’t tell you, one could arguably set a higher limit based on surveys of the upper tolerable limit for the general population. That would require a far more extensive discussion though.

    “Is an Alzheimer patient suffering or are all the people around him suffering?”

    They’re not suffering, but if the individual in question didn’t want to go like that, they could write a ‘living will’ in which they specify in advance under what circumstances they would want to die. “Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”

    “Many parents whose children have cancer say their child is a trooper and very upbeat–do we override that belief and say it’s just the child trying to please the parent? Should a parent talk their child into believing death is best for the child when the parent is the one who wants the outcome?”

    It may be difficult to police, but the parent needs to interpret what the child would want if they understood. It’s not about what *they* want. But situations where parents’ and children’s interests differ are always difficult for consent issues.

    The child may simply want the pain to stop, unconditionally. They’ll do anything and give up anything to make that happen.

    The difficult situation is with the mentally disabled child. The mentally able might say, as with Alzheimer’s, that they’d rather die than live like that, but that’s from their perspective. The mentally disabled may sometimes lead quite happy lives, or at least tolerable by the standards of life generally. The burden is on others.

    I think where there is such a conflict of interests, that ought to disqualify from giving consent on their behalf. But who else is there? I certainly agree that it shouldn’t be the state – besides doubting the competence of distant bureaucrats to do so, the state has a major conflict of interests too. That’s a hard question.

    But there are plenty of easier ones, where I think we could do something.

  22. All,

    “In The Netherlands, where euthanasia has been legal since 2002 when the ‘Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide Act’ took effect, a recent poll published in the Journal of Medical Ethics found that of 2,000 Dutch people polled, 21 percent believe euthanasia should be allowed for those who are suffering from no illnesses, but who are simply ‘tired of living.'” Source.

  23. “If offered a choice between death or torture, which would you pick? Torture?”

    I remember a vulgar racist joke from my youth, where some missionaries (it’s alway’s missionaries) are offered a choice between death and buggery. On choosing death as the more honourable option, they are informed that it is death by buggery….

    Terminal illness in anyone is awful, in a child who should have their full life in front of them it’s incredibly terrible. Particularly if its one of those forms where any vestige of human dignity is destroyed in agony, incontinence and humiliation. All complicated by the hideous moral dilemma of whose suffering is relieved when it ends. Those undergoing or those watching. I’m willing to entertain the notion that at some point in the proceedings when any hope of remission is exhausted, and the options for relief are expired,, we can at least ask the question what’s best for the patient and how do they feel about it. Not sure I know how to provide adequate safeguards and objectivity to ensure that, for example, Millionare uncle Ernie isn’t offed 5 years early to make sure that his estate doesn’t get consumed by medical bills.

  24. “Yes, some people prefer death to torture while in the middle of the torture. Some do not. You see that in prisoners of war and kidnap victims. Some hang on, some do not”

    Yes but those who hang on cling to the hope that it will end, what happens if that hope is undeniably extinguished..?.

  25. Ben has clearly misunderstood me: I made it quite plain that the decision whether to live or die, must rest entirely with the individual. It is he alone who can assess the worth of his life.

    It doesn’t seem you addressed the matter of who would be performing the evaluation at all. Either way, the troubles which follow from the notion that life is not valuable in and of itself are unavoidable. As I said, it’s not the votes that count, but who counts the votes. If and when a man is found to value his life more than his life is valued by one authorized to weigh such matters, he will be euthanized against his will for the public good. If this authority is given to no man, then we have the status quo from before this euthanasia talk became something which wasn’t publicly shunned.

    For what reason should hospitals or governments become not only complicit with but participants in suicides? The reasons to oppose this precedent are manifold. The reclassification of poisoning as healthcare is dangerous even to reason itself. Potassium cyanide is a lot cheaper than paclitaxel, and healthcare is increasingly becoming part of the public dole.

    A human life is inherently, infinitely valuable – a unique subjective rational intellect. To say otherwise is simply to be wrong, whether one disparages the value of another’s or even his own life. If this doesn’t pass the relativism test in that the one might not agree, then neither does this demand that I attribute relativism any degree of weight pass its own standards. If human life is only to be weighed by subjective standards, how much less the subjective standard by which that petition is made?

  26. The reason for the legal maxim “Hard cases make bad law” now becomes evident. Permission to off one’s fellow man always begins with the most extreme cases of unending torment. But once the principle is established we discover that there really is no other objective point where one can draw a line. And the State really needs to save money on those hospital beds.

  27. Mike: If there is no hope, then the person would give up and stop trying to stay alive, I would think. If in medicine, they are kept alive by extraordinary means, the support could be removed. If not, then they could end their own life. That won’t work if the person cannot kill themselves, of course. Which then goes back to the living will and not going to extraordinary measures in the first place.

    I am having a difficult time coming up with an example of where someone is being kept alive against their will. Maybe if there was no living will, and certainly at this time, children. It would seem in most cases, people can kill themselves if they don’t want to live anymore. They don’t need to involve others, though there may be something in the shared responsibility or comfort in not dying alone that makes this more palatable.

    None of this is going to be black and white. I will note that I am not for euthanasia and not approving of suicide. I can, however, imagine how life would be so painful someone would want out. That said, I cannot see myself participating in the euthanasia or suicide. I am sure, though, that someone can come up with a scenario that I have no answer for. Death is very complicated when we start being the ones who administer it.

  28. Not every doctor wants to perform euthanasia but given what a short step it was from allowing a baker to bake a cake and forcing him to bake a cake (or at least punishing him for not baking the damn cake) how short a step will it be from authorising doctors to compelling them?

    A doctor in the UK refused to perform a cervical smear test on a male patient. He was disciplined by his local health committee.

  29. “Permission to off one’s fellow man always begins with the most extreme cases of unending torment. But once the principle is established we discover that there really is no other objective point where one can draw a line.”

    There are lots of areas in life where the lines drawn are arbitrary. That doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t draw them.

    And anyway, the objective point where we’re drawing it is that the individual is sovereign over their own mind and body.

    “Not every doctor wants to perform euthanasia […] how short a step will it be from authorising doctors to compelling them?”

    Not every doctor *doesn’t* want to perform euthanasia, either. Should we therefore *compel* them not to, against their own consciences?

    The ideal is that nobody should be made to do anything they don’t want to. A patient who needs help can ask, but the doctor needs to consent to their part in the transaction. If they don’t, the patient will have to ask somebody else. What goes on between consenting adults, so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, is their business.

    The baker’s cake was the result of an illiberal American law introduced as part of the efforts to end segregation. In theory, shops that refused to serve black people could be out-competed by shops that didn’t, so you wouldn’t need to regulate when market forces will do the job. But shops that served black customers lost all their white customers, so even if they wanted to they couldn’t. To get round that, they introduced a law that said ‘if you offer a service to the public, you have to offer it to *all* the public” so that all the shops would make the jump simultaneously, and the white customers couldn’t shut them down by going elsewhere, because there was nowhere else to go. At the time you could argue there was a justification for it. In this case, there are lots of other bakers who wouldn’t be bothered, and the justification doesn’t apply. But the argument now has to be to remove or limit the law – like it or not, that *is* the law.

    The case was one of people playing politics, anyway. The gay couple could have easily gone elsewhere, but they wanted to make a point and get a load of publicity for the cause, which the baker refusing to bake the cake allowed them to do. Conversely, resisting the request and getting taken to court got a lot of publicity for the unreasonableness of the law, which might help the case for it to be repealed. Both sides I think were playing political games.

    Nevertheless, the fact that people will muck it up isn’t generally a good excuse for not trying to do the right thing.

  30. Whatever happened to ‘first do no harm?’ Has it reached the point where ‘no harm’ includes intentional killing? I’m all for people being able to take their own life. I’m rather against that action becoming part of acceptable medical practice, especially if regulated by the state.

  31. Spellbound: I wondered the same thing. My hope is doctor’s no longer are required to repeat the Hippocratic Oath.

    Now, for those who believe that people should kill, by request, those who will not kill themselves (and I’m leaving out physically cannot–too lengthy a discussion) why don’t we appoint one guy to be the official “Euthanasia Administrator” and send said individual to wherever he is needed? He cannot be a physician, but will be trained in the most appropriate methods of killing someone painlessly. We could give them one-year terms so no one spends their entire working life killing people. Let’s not pretend this is part of the medical profession. Relieving suffering may be a part of medicine, but only to a certain point. Medicine is to heal, not harm. If medicine fails, then send in the EA and call this what it is–killing someone who will not kill themselves but does not want to live.

  32. “Death is very complicated when we start being the ones who administer it.”

    Well yes indeed, particularly when our collective moral compass was set when few people lived long enough to get cancer, let alone medicine progressing to the point of keeping the meat fresh after the soul had fled. And as the old adage goes, hard cases make bad law…

  33. As Mike touched on, much of the problem here is we clever humans want to stay alive and keep our loved ones alive so we figured out how to cure cancer, sometimes, how to make machines to keep us alive, and then, when some of these failed, started wringing our hands and talking about killing our failures in this area.

    The original question about torture versus death: When you take your child in and he/she is diagnosed with cancer, some would argue that at that point, you have chosen torture. In any case, you have chosen “not death”. You are willing to gamble you will win the cancer lottery and your child will survive. As treatment progresses and it becomes evident your child may not be winning the cancer lottery, is it then appropriate to tear up the lottery ticket, declare defeat and remove the evidence of failure from your sight? Yes, it sounds cruel put that way. And I am not diminishing the lose of a child or loved one. I suppose one should make it clear from the beginning that one is willing to fight to survive until it’s extremely uncomfortable and then they want to be killed if they won’t kill themselves.

    Perhaps the most disturbing is this is no different than suicide-by-cop. Few people feel going out in a blaze of glory is euthanasia. Yet, if we cloak it in a medical cape and make it sound respectable, people come out in support.

  34. Sheri: There was a famous case in France a few years ago (more details here : http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3155924.stm for instance). A young man called Vincent Humbert was left mute, blind and paralytic after a car accident. Trapped in his body and yet conscious, he was able to devise a way to communicate with his mother. He wanted his life to end and even “wrote” a letter to the French president to this end… but to no avail. He could not do it by himself and (maybe fortunately) it is not enough to “give up and stop trying to stay alive”.

    I hope never to be in the same situation but, should I be, I certainly wish that someone would put an end to it.

  35. Gildae: I noted that I skipped the “cannot kill themselves” because that’s a whole other question that could take up pages and pages of discussion. At this point, one can probably avoid such an outcome with a living will. However, even then, I have known people who receded the living will, thinking they would recover, only to end up on life support later. It’s not black and white and it’s always a gamble.

  36. Not killing a man is not killing a man.

    Torturing a man is torturing a man.

    How does one equate torturing a man with not killing a man? Asked and answered: slipshod reasoning. To not murder someone is not to force him to live. Murder being illegal is one of the last sane concepts in this society. When a man puts too little value on his invaluable life, he will often commit suicide – always a tragedy, never a relief. To program a mechanism by which he can petition to be murdered is a monstrosity on two counts, one for the murdered and another for the murderer. Both are diminished by the arrangement. There is no gray. It’s as black as the pit.

  37. Let us deal with four words. State – legal – to kill. Put aside the Belgian doctors story and focus on those words. Nation states have been legally killing for centuries. Oh, I get it, you are all hyper concerned because children are involved. So, try this. Nation states have been legally killing children for centuries. Confused? Astounded? Angered? War is legal killing. How many hundreds of thousands of children have died in the last century during warfare? Oh I can hear the equivocating arguments forming – “those deaths are mostly collateral” or “child soldiers only operate in the third world” or “child jihadis are ordered by God” or “we are discussing child euthanasia.” Death is the subject. I find it amusing we foam at the mouth over the prospect of state sanctioned death by medical practitioners while we conveniently ignore the recruiting, training, and killing of thousands of “soldier” children in Central Africa happening today. Where is the outrage?

  38. I find it amusing we foam at the mouth over the prospect of state sanctioned death by medical practitioners while we conveniently ignore the recruiting, training, and killing of thousands of “soldier” children in Central Africa happening today. Where is the outrage?

    Right here, baby! If the subject had been brought up, I’d have called it “black as the pit” without regard for the false opinions of other cultures or philosophies every bit as much as I did this subject. The reality of moral truth demands no less. Let every regime which forces children into military service be put to fire and the sword without the slightest regard for excuse! Such inherently evil actions can not be justified or tolerated.

    Now for the fun part: Where is your outrage at the killing of innocent Jews at the holocaust? Why have you conveniently turned a blind eye?

  39. Don’t fret, nullus. Scientific American just ran an article about the arbitrary definition of “life” and concluded that “life” does not exist, only “complexity.”

    http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2013/12/scientific-american-why-life-does-not-really-exist.html

    One philosopher then checked on the definition of “complexity,” found many such definitions, and so by the same argument concluded that “complexity” does not exist. Which means we’re kinda stuck here.
    http://thomism.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/sa-tries-philosophy-hilarity-ensues/

    At least our bien pensants and Besserwissers are converging on a conclusion here: life does not exist, so the victims are being deprived of nothing.

  40. So I guess the Belgian doctors use the Hypocritic instead of the Hippocratic Oath now?

    Which reminds me of a line from the original Hippocratic Oath…

    “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy.”

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