By Miriam Merrill
Euthanasia doesn’t grant patients the right to die, it gives doctors permission to kill, and the rate of killing is becoming more frequent. A recent news story announced new research that Euthanasia is responsible for 4.5% of all deaths in the Netherlands. The Netherland government website even refers to this practice, however legal, as what it really is—not just euthanasia but “physician-assisted suicide.”
The Netherlands became the first country in the world that legalized euthanasia in 2002. Since then, the treatment has become “common practice” among physicians there; common practice meaning patients don’t even have to be terminally ill to qualify so substantially more individuals with a variety of conditions, including dementia, can seek the help of a physician to prematurely end their life.
Euthanasia laws are an incredibly slippery slope. Author Rita Marker said, “Once you’ve transformed euthanasia into a medical treatment there’s no logical way you can say that it should not be available to children. People who support euthanasia should do so with their eyes open. It will eventually be available to everyone.” We already see this trend in the Netherlands. What started out as a practice to aid those with a terminal illness has now extended to those “suffering unbearably,” a completely relative state that is difficult to regulate. A few months ago, Belgium euthanized their first child. Safeguards are only useful if they work. History shows that once the door to euthanasia is cracked open, it seems almost impossible to contain it as initially intended.
Others believe that euthanasia is a more humane option for those already planning to commit suicide. However, research shows that in places that have legalized euthanasia and/or assisted suicide, there has been an increase of total suicides rather than the predicted decrease in non-assisted suicides. Legalizing this practice does not decrease or even stabilize the suicide rate; it increases it by making suicide acceptable in society.
Many believe that it is humane to offer an option for loved ones to end their suffering and compare it to putting down pets or animals. While it can be acknowledged that this issue is close to the hearts of many and we should never intend to respond insensitively to the extreme heartache many face daily, I submit that there is a better way to help our family members and friends than to put them permanently to sleep. They deserve to know they aren’t a burden and that their worth extends beyond their physical or mental condition. They need a hand to hold and loving faces watching over them as they go—not a doctor with a needle.
We must actively oppose the legalization of euthanasia and related assisted suicide. History shows that any safeguards written into proposed legislation are not permanent. Parameters to qualify for the treatment will broaden until our population’s most vulnerable are at risk. Additionally, too many lives are lost to suicide already. We cannot increase those statistics by making suicide casual in our society. Related legislation is proposed annually all across the world and we must contact our legislators and spread awareness to the issue to stop this trend. We must fight for life.
“Assisted suicide isn’t ‘choice;’ it is the end of all choices. Doctor prescribed death is not ‘death with dignity;’ it is really the euthanasia of hope.” – Wesley J Smith, JD