When does euthanasia become murder?

Always, if one believes that, since it’s God who gives man life, only God can take it away.

At least they didn’t call it euthanasia

However, one has to accept that such throwbacks are in the minority. Not as small a minority as those who believe that children are brought by storks, but a minority nonetheless.

Since we live in an aggressively secular – and therefore not particularly bright – world, references to God, history, cultural or any other tradition can’t swing an argument any longer. Such things are met with derision, accompanied, if one is lucky, with a chanted mantra of modern articles of faith.

Darwin created life, and the Enlightenment liberated man from the shackles of any religious, intellectual, moral or spiritual authority. Because man evolved from the ape, he’s wholly in charge of his own destiny – and who but a dyed-in-the-wool reactionary could possibly find anything wrong with this logic?

Granted, a man doesn’t choose when to be born. His Mum and Dad make that decision (you can only say ‘mother and father’ at the risk of branding yourself as unfeeling). And if Mum decides she doesn’t want to be a Mum just yet, she can abort the person in the making, nothing wrong with that.

But the moment an unaborted person crawls out of his Mum’s womb, he becomes his own master. He can think or do anything he likes, provided he stays within the law. And if he’s unhappy with the way life is treating him, he can decide to end it.

He may do so by his own hand, that’s his right. No one but an antediluvian fanatic finds anything wrong with suicide. But if an unhappy man lacks either the courage to kill himself or the mental faculties to make that decision, then that’s what we have doctors for, isn’t it?

A kind medic will step in and fulfil his Hypocritical… sorry, I mean Hippocratic, oath by relieving society of the burden of caring for a crumblie.

It’s called euthanasia, which is the ultimate assertion of human rights and such commendable things as kindness, empathy and concern for the common good, of which the state is the distillation and epitome.

Hence anyone who regards euthanasia per se as murder is a troglodyte who doesn’t belong in our progressive world. This much is clear.

But what if someone first decides to be euthanised, but then changes his mind just as the lethal injection is about to go in? If you’re a believer in human autonomy, then you’ll probably think that the execution needs to be aborted, as it were.

But if you were a Dutch believer in human autonomy, you’d feel differently. You’d feel that the decision to be euthanised is like dropping a ballot paper into a box: the vote’s in, there’s no changing one’s mind. Job done.

If that shilly-shallying weakling has second thoughts at the last moment, that’s just too bad. The doctor is within his rights to have him pinned down kicking and screaming, and then to stick the needle in anyway.

This isn’t a hypothetical situation. A Dutch doctor is going on trial in The Hague for doing just that.

A woman of 74 suffering from Alzheimer’s decided to be euthanised. The doctor put a sleeping pill into her coffee, and the woman dropped off.

But when she woke up, she decided she didn’t want to die after all and began to kick and scream. But she was overpowered and killed anyway.

“The woman was in a state of confusion and the doctor did not see any point in consulting her,” explained Holland’s public broadcasting station. Absolutely. Who did the old biddy think she was, changing her mind like that? She couldn’t possibly have been thinking clearly.

However, a doctor acting quite as decisively as that turned out to be too much even for the progressive Dutch. Holland was the first country to legalise euthanasia in 2000, but some annoying restraints were still attached to the execution.

As the public prosecutor explained, “’The doctor is facing a charge of carrying out euthanasia without following the strict guidelines set down for such a process.”

So the doctor is being tried for being slapdash in following bureaucratic procedure, not for murder. You could see me wiping my brow: my faith in the Dutch has been restored.

For a second there I thought they had reverted to the old morality, wherein something like euthanasia was regarded as monstrous regardless of how meticulously the relevant guidelines were followed. But no, the goose-stepping march of progress has merely stumbled, not stopped.

Give them another few years, and restrictions on euthanasia will disappear one by one. As it is, the doctor involved will probably suffer no consequences other than perhaps some professional ones.

It ought to be clear that, once euthanasia has become legal, sooner or later it’ll become compulsory. Such a development follows inexorably from the new morality based on the new view of man, his origin and his life.

The prosecuted doctor simply moved down that road too fast for the state’s liking. Before long, the state will be flashing an avuncular smile: “Now you can. Euthanise away, and may Darwin be with you.”

1 thought on “When does euthanasia become murder?”

  1. The anti-theist counter-counter argument would be: “Why would a Christian want to delay that elderly woman’s arrival in Heaven? Wouldn’t a true believer elect to join her on the trip?”

    The really offensive thing about Modernity is the obliteration of morality accompanied by endless moralising.

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