Euthanasia, the purposeful killing of another human being supposing or claiming his consent, represents the triumph of utilitarianism. When a life is deemed no longer “useful” or capable of generating pleasure, that supreme goal which animates the lives of us Moderns, it is snuffed out and buried—though perhaps pieces of the body are first salvaged for use in other units.
Belgium now allows children to be killed by “doctors”, a profession once given to the preservation of life but now one, at least in Enlightened countries, equally devoted to taking it (don’t forget abortions), albeit in the most efficient cost-effective sanitary way possible. Oddly, in the countries where it still occurs, “doctors” are increasingly being used in executions, not just to certify death but to cause it. Makes a change from a firing squad manned by civilians ignorant of the finer points of human anatomy.
Anyway, if the Internet does not lie, the voting age in Belgium is 18. Marriage has to wait until 18, the same year one may begin a career as a prostitute. The legal age to attempt to create life is 16, the same age one is allowed to enter unguided into a dance contest. Children before these ages are deemed insufficiently ready to rise to the listed challenges.
But a child may request its own death at the hand of a Belgian “doctor” at any age. According to the article “Pediatric Euthanasia in Belgium: Disturbing Developments” in JAMA by Andrew Siegel and others, “In addition to requiring the child’s own voluntary and explicit request for euthanasia, the new law requires parental consent, excludes children with an intellectual disability or mental illness, and mandates a multidisciplinary team carefully examine the child’s capacity for discernment.”
Have no fear. Experts are on the case. If the multidisciplinary team says the child knows what its doing when it asks to be slaughtered, then the child understands. The only real question is what sort of experience is required to be a member of a multidisciplinary team. Butcher? Chicago Alderman? Income tax bureaucrat? Driving instructor?
See how this sentence from Siegel grabs you: “In March 2005, recognizing the rising incidence of pediatric euthanasia without any legal sanction, physicians at the University Medical Center of Groningen, in the Netherlands, published practice guidelines for the ethical implementation of euthanasia for severely disabled newborns.” This is called the Groningen Protocol.
Wait. The rising incidence of pediatric euthanasia without any legal sanction? I don’t know about you, but the last place I’d want to take my kid in the Netherlands is to the “doctor.”
Not to unduly highlight the city, but this is like saying “Recognizing the rising incidence of murder without legal sanction, politicians in Chicago published practice guidelines for the ethical implementation of the killing of South Side residents” and calling these guidelines the Chicago Protocol. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?
Siegel and friends agree with history: “[Children] lack the intellectual capacity to develop a sophisticated preference against palliative interventions of last resort. Instead, in the case of the new Belgian law, children seem to be asked to choose between unbearable suffering on the one hand and death on the other.”
And: “The criterion related to the ‘capacity for discernment’ runs the risk of ignoring the fact that children and adolescents lack the experiential knowledge and sense of self that adults often invoke—rightly or wrongly—at the end of their lives.”
Since Siegel is himself a physician, he couldn’t bring himself to admit, in print anyway, that doctors are often wrong about their diagnoses and prognoses in end-of-life illnesses. Death, unless there be divine intervention, is still the one unrecoverable mistake. So he and his co-authors, both ethicists like Yours Truly, argue instead of resorting to the knife, “aggressive” palliative care should be used to relieve pain. “Such interventions are far more ethical than allowing clinicians to euthanize children who do not possess the cognitive and emotional sophistication to either need or comprehend what they might appear to seek.”
I am glad to see these words in so prominent a journal. It means hope is not yet lost. I can’t help but find them a delaying action, though. American elites are jealous of European innovations and hate to see themselves left behind in any cause du mort. Given their penchant for redefining reality, it can’t be too much longer before we see editorials entitled, “Let Poor Susie Die.”
Update “Swiss group to allow assisted dying for elderly who are not terminally ill: Exit adds ‘suicide due to old age’ to its statutes…” When you gotta go, you gotta go.
Thanks to Bruce Foutch @ChristosArgyrop for alerting us to this article.