Wesley Smith: Canada Senate Votes for More Euthanasia

This article was published by Wesley Smith on June 10, 2016.

By Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

Assisted suicide advocates in this country pretend it is about terminal illness as a political expedience. It’s baloney, but a lot of people fall for it. Ya gotta want to believe! 

The need for euthanasia advocates’ deploying this tactic was obliterated in Canada when the Supreme Court conjured a right to be lethally injected if one has a medically diagnosed illness causing irremediable suffering–as defined by the patient. That goes waaay beyond a terminal illness, perhaps to the mentally ill (as allowed in Belgium and the Netherlands) 

Now, euthanasia advocates, freed from having to persuade the public, are have revealed their true goals, pushing for the most radical and broad license to be killed in the world. 

The House of Commons passed enabling legislation that mildly reined-in the agenda, requiring death to be “reasonably foreseeable.” That’s a mere pretense of limitation–more a gesture than a policy–which isn’t the diagnosis of an actual terminal condition, just one that could become terminal…someday. 

Too restrictive! The Canadian Senate just removed the “foreseeable” requirement. From the National Post story

The Senate voted Wednesday to allow suffering Canadians who are not near death to seek medical help to end their lives, knocking out the central pillar underpinning the federal government’s proposed new law on medically assisted dying. 
Senators voted 41-30 to amend Bill C-14, deleting the requirement that a person’s natural death must be “reasonably foreseeable.” 
The amendment replaces the eligibility criteria in the bill with the much more permissive criteria set out in last year’s landmark Supreme Court ruling, which struck down the ban on assisted dying. 

The Senate is indeed more in line with the Supreme Court’s ruling. 

But the Canadian Charter could have allowed the Parliament to temporarily void the ruling or make it nonbinding through a process know as the “notwithstanding clause.” (Would that the US had such an ability.) It didn’t even try. 

It it is beyond disturbing how enthusiastically–indeed, like being swamped by a dam bursting–Canada has being swept up into the culture of death. 

As our closest neighbor, both in proximity and culture, we will not be unaffected.

California Hospital says 'NO' to Assisted Suicide.

This article was originally published by Wesley Smith on his blog on May 6.

Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

By Wesley Smith

In California, it is a time of choosing for individuals, families, and the medical sector.

Will doctors prescribe poison to their terminally ill patients, if asked? Will hospitals allow patients to commit suicides on premises?

If asked, will people attend the suicides of their ill loved ones, thus validating their worst fears and becoming morally complicit by their own participation? I have urged an across-the-board policy of “total non-cooperation.” Assisted suicide may be legal, but no one can (yet) be made to participate in it.

Now, a courageous hospital appears on the verge of declaring itself an assisted suicide free zone. From the LA Times story:

Medical leaders at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena voted behind closed doors this week for the facility’s hundreds of doctors and affiliated personnel to opt out of California’s assisted suicide law, which goes into effect June 9. 
If the proposed amendment to the hospital’s medical rules is approved by the board of directors this month, Huntington will become one of the largest non-religious medical institutions statewide to turn its back on a law that Gov. Jerry Brown called “a comfort” to anyone “dying in prolonged and excruciating pain.”

Did you catch the columnist’s bias? Data from Oregon, Washington, Netherlands, Belgium, etc., all show that people do not commit assisted suicide due to “prolonged and excruciating pain,” but existential fears about being a burden, losing dignity, etc.

These are crucial issues that demand a compassionate, suicide prevention response from caregivers, cruelly denied to most patients who ask for assisted suicide. 

More to the point of total non-cooperation: Assisted suicide isn’t just about the patient who wants to die.

• It is about our individual and collective response to their despair. 
• It is about the adverse impact on culture and our view of the importance of human life, reflected in the fall off the vertical moral cliff seen in Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland. 
• It is about the impact on other seriously ill patients, struggling with existential terrors who could be dragged down by the suicide taking place down the hall or across the street. 
• It is about whether we will surrender to the culture of death or peacefully resist with every ounce of our being.

The culture of death brooks no dissent. This column is intended to ratchet up the pressure on the hospital–because it is secular–to yield to the suicide agenda.

I just hope its board of directors will stay true to medicine’s Hippocratic calling and keep their nerve. Just because something is legal, that doesn’t make it right.

Declare Total Non-Cooperation With Assisted Suicide

The article was published by First Things on April 29, 2016.

By Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

I recently gave a speech to a group of conservative senior citizens in California, arguing against assisted suicide, which is due to become legal there in June. Assisted suicide is not an issue that allows for fence-sitting, so although I expected (and received) a friendly reception for the most part, I knew that at least a few people would use the Q & A to tell me that I was full of beans.

Sure enough. “You have made a cogent and reasoned presentation, Mr. Smith,” one of the first questioners told me, his voice rising in anger as he spoke. “But if I want to die, I want to be able to die, and I don’t want my family or me stigmatized by people saying I committed suicide!” In other words, nothing that I said mattered. The man was set in his opinion, and neither the facts about euthanasia practice nor the need for accurate terminology regarding self-killing would change that.

And so it went. Those who agreed with me—the majority of this particular audience—spoke of how their vulnerable loved ones would be endangered by the law, while the law’s supporters mostly made angry assertions about their right to die. Dialogue? What’s dialogue?

Link to the full article

Assisted Suicide Advocacy & the Increase in Suicide

This article was published by Wesley Smith on his blog on April 22, 2016

By Wesley Smith

There has been a huge and alarming increase in the U.S. suicide rate. From the CDC announcement

From 1999 through 2014, the age-adjusted suicide rate in the United States increased 24%, from 10.5 to 13.0 per 100,000 population, with the pace of increase greater after 2006… 
Suicide is increasing against the backdrop of generally declining mortality, and is currently one of the 10 leading causes of death overall and within each age group 10–64…  
This report highlights increases in suicide mortality from 1999 through 2014 and shows that while the rate increased almost steadily over the period, the average annual percent increase was greater for the second half of this period (2006–2014) than for the first half (1999–2006). 

Color me decidedly not surprised. We are becoming a pro-suicide culture. 

I believe the assisted suicide movement bears partial responsibility. Suicides have increased at the very time the assisted suicide movement has been vigorously and prominently promoting self-killing as a proper means to alleviate suffering. 

Moreover, assisted suicide is often portrayed sympathetically in popular entertainment and the media is completely on board the assisted suicide bandwagon. Don’t tell me that doesn’t give despairing people lethal ideas. 

At the same time, suicide prevention campaigns usually ignore this toxic elephant in the room. 

It is also noteworthy that the suicide rate increased faster after 2006–the very time when the assisted suicide movement has become the most vigorous and made its most dramatic advances. 

There is no question that assisted suicide advocacy is not the only factor causing this alarming increase in suicides. But I am convinced that the correlation could also be at least a partial causation. 

Look at it this way: If we say that suicide is okay in some circumstances–but not others–at best we are sending a mixed message, making it more difficult for the anti-suicide message to sink in. 

In this regard it is like telling someone, “Don’t smoke, but if you do, use filter cigarettes.”

One study has already found a weak linkage. I would like to see a more concerted investigations that aren’t afraid of making a controversial connection.

Smith: Euthanasia by Organ Donation

Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

This article was first published by National Review on March 25, 2016.

By Wesley Smith

In 1993, my first anti-euthanasia article published in Newsweek, warned that if society ever embraced assisted suicide, we would eventually couple medicalized killing with organ harvesting “as a plum to society.” 

That is now happening in Netherlands and Belgium, where doctors are on the lookout for mentally ill and people with neuromuscular disabilities who want to be killed and harvested.

An article written by a gaggle of Netherlander doctors and medical professors in the Journal of Medical Ethics, now suggests taking the next step of directly harvesting-to-death sick, disabled, and mentally ill suicidal people (all eligible for euthanasia in both countries) without bothering with the lethal injection beforehand.

Link to the full article

Belgium - Organ donation, presumed consent, euthanasia

Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

This article was published by Wesley Smith on his blog on March 25, 2016

By Wesley Smith

A just published article in the Journal of Medical Ethics argues for allowing killing by organ removal as a form of euthanasia and organ donation. More, over at The Corner

The authors mention that Belgium has “presumed consent” for organ donation. From the piece

When a patient is determined dead on the basis of either circulatory or neurological criteria, the treating physician is legally allowed to remove his organs for transplantation. 
In case of donation, three non-treating physicians, who are not involved in the transplantation procedure, should independently determine death.  
The law explicitly states that relatives should be enabled to say farewell to the deceased as soon as possible after the donation procedure.

In the immoral utilitarian milieu that now reigns in Belgium, this means that that doctors could look upon all “suffering” patients as potential organ suppliers. 

That could easily influence how they discuss treatment options, and lead to subtle persuasion for euthanasia–without discussing the organ issue. 

The authors also suggest that doctors should be able to recommend organ donation to euthanasia requesters, and all doubts about pressure or emotional coercion can be remedied simply by assuring the public all is honorable: 

One, however, needs to avoid the public having the perception that anyone who is ill and willing to donate his organs will be able to undergo euthanasia, or that a physician would motivate a patient to undergo euthanasia because of organ donation possibility.  
The public needs to have confidence in the ability of a physician to judge objectively and acknowledge that strict legal criteria and boundaries regarding euthanasia and organ donation exist. 

Here’s the problem: Once doctors and society accepts the killing-is-an-acceptable-answer-to-suffering premise of euthanasia, eventually it won’t matter if those deemed to have a life not worth living are herded toward euthanasia–particularly if their organs are harvestable. After all, there are people who could have better lives who need those livers and hearts! 

If you believe euthanasia and organ harvesting can be conjoined without adverse impacting society’s adherence to the intrinsic equal dignity of human life, I have a beautiful orange bridge that links San Francisco to Marin County to sell at a bargain rate. Interested?

Bioethicist’s Unprincipled Attack on Not Dead Yet Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/human-exceptionalism

Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

This article was published by Wesley Smith on his blog on March 8, 2016.

By Wesley Smith

Some bioethicists are not nearly as smart as they think. 

Witness this attack by University of Ottawa professor Stuart Chambers on the disability rights advocacy organization Not Dead Yet for its opposition to legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Chambers calls the organization’s stance, “unprincipled” because it distinguishes between the right to refuse life-sustaining medical treatment, which the group supports, and legalized euthanasia/assisted suicide, which it opposes implacably. From, “Not Dead Yet: An Unprincipled Position Against Assisted Death:” 

Although the choices surrounding acts of commission and acts of omission could be similarly motivated by loss of autonomy, decrease in bodily function, or feelings of being a burden, Not Dead Yet only supports autonomous choice for passive treatment decisions (withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment) that lead to premature death. 
To be consistent, Not Dead Yet should be lobbying for or against all end-of-life alternatives.

We’ve been hearing this same tired, sophistry for decades: 

  • Withdrawing medical treatment may lead to death, but that isn’t the intent. Indeed, the point is to stop an unwanted bodily intrusion, not to kill. As Paul Ramsey put it, that is treating the “patient as a person.” 
  • With the exception of a feeding tube, such deaths are uncertain. Sometimes–if unexpectedly–people live. For example, Karen Ann Quinlan lived about ten years after her respirator was removed. 
  • Death is certain in euthanasia/assisted suicide. 
  • When medical treatment is withdrawn or withheld on request, if it comes, the death is natural. 
  • In euthanasia/assisted suicide, death is unnatural, e.g., a result of homicide or suicide.
  • In contrast to removing unwanted treatment, the intent of assisted suicide/euthanasia is to kill.

Not Dead Yet sees clearly that assisted suicide/euthanasia discriminates invidiously against people with disabilities because it treats them as a disposable caste whose lives are not worth saving if they become suicidal. 

Link to the full article