Hello and welcome to Human Exceptionalism. Assisted suicide advocacy is wrapped in euphemisms and false assurances. We are often told that medicalized killing will be a last resort, reserved for the terminally ill to be deployed in the context of a long-term relationship with a caring doctor, and even then strictly when there is no other way to alleviate suffering. But that is just sales puffery. In fact, no law requires objective proof of pain and suffering that cannot be controlled before doctor-prescribed death is administered. Such regulatory protective guidelines, as they are often called, merely offer false assurances of control and act as the honey, if you will, that helps the hemlock go down.
In countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands, in which euthanasia-consciousness has been popularly embraced, doctor-facilitated suicide is available to the dying, the disabled, the elderly, the mentally ill, and even some healthy aged married couples who choose death over the prospect of future widowhood. Given current events in Canada, those who have complacently assured themselves that such horrible things could never happen outside of a few European countries may be in for a nasty awakening. Last year, when the Canadian Supreme Court, conjured in that country’s governing charter the right to receive euthanasia for virtually any medical condition that causes irremediable suffering, a term that is very loosely defined to include psychological pain, disability, and suffering that is deemed irremediable only because alleviating treatment is refused by the patient, I had hoped Canadian doctors would revolt. Instead, the medical establishment has actively embraced a culture of death perhaps even more radical than that infecting Belgium and the Netherlands.
An indication of the direction in which Canada is heading can be discerned by reading the Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying Final Report, released on November 30, 2015. The report, which offers 43 recommendations to effectuate the Supreme Court’s mandate, is shocking in its enthusiastic embrace of medicalized killing. Brought forward under the auspices of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the experts on euthanasia urge Canada to jump head-first into the death abyss.
Even though all of the report’s recommendations might not be implemented into law, it is an important document that illustrates the radical ambition of the euthanasia movement, agendas usually kept in the shadows so as not to alarm a wary public. Here are just a few of the recommendations, followed by a brief description of why I think they are important.
Recommendation: All provinces and territories should ensure access to physician-assisted dying, including both physician-administered and self-administered physician-assisted dying.
Assisted suicide advocates often claim that the requirement of self-administration is a crucial safeguard to protect the weak against non-voluntary death. In actually, of course, coercion can easily happen behind closed doors. Moreover, since studies in the Netherlands have shown that lethal injection has far fewer side effects, such as convulsions and extended coma than swallowed prescribed overdoses, the application of hastened death over time will tend toward the homicidal.
Recommendation: The provision of physician-assisted dying should also be permitted by a registered healthcare professional such as a registered nurse.
Nurses always get the dirty jobs. Allowing nurses to do the actual killing of patients would not only normalize euthanasia, giving it the appearance of just another routine medical treatment, but would also isolate doctors from personally participating in killing, making the death prescription that much easier to dispense.
Recommendation: We do not recommend a prescribed waiting or reflection period.
People legally qualified for euthanasia who want to die now would be able to do so without waiting any time, during which they might find a renewed desire to live. Adding to the danger, the committee recommended that euthanasia be available at any time after receiving a death-qualifying diagnosis, which is particularly dangerous, as sometimes the initial shock of such an event leads to a temporary thought of suicide.
Recommendation: Access to physician-assisted dying should not be impeded by the imposition of arbitrary age limits. Eligibility for physician-assisted dying is to be based on competence rather than age.
This opens the door to child euthanasia, meaning that boys and girls who cannot legally consent to being tattooed could be able to lawfully order themselves killed. And this should be a particular concern to Orthodox Christians and other religious believers.
Recommendation: Faith-based institutions must either allow physician-assisted dying within the institution or make arrangements for the safe and timely transfer of the patient to a non-objecting institution.
As with religiously dissenting doctors who the experts say should be required to refer qualified patients for euthanasia, religiously oriented medical facilities that view euthanasia as a grievous sin would face coerced complicity in ending the life of a patient who wants to die.
Eliminating suffering by eliminating the sufferer is not seen by euthanasia supporters as a vice, but as a virtue. Indeed, the advisory group’s recommendations evidence that doctor-prescribed death could become the favored approach to dying rather than the exception. Lest anyone doubt that the same dark forces are acting in the United States, People magazine has splashily published at least three boosting stories on Brittany Maynard, made internationally famous by the A-list media as an avatar of compassion and enlightenment because she promoted and committed assisted suicide.
Better buckle your seatbelts. We’re in for a bumpy ride.