That’s you, Gentle Reader. At least, it could be, if you got a few bad breaks.
The drive for the legalization of “euthanasia” – etymologically, “good death” – was never an isolated controversy. It was a starting point. Indeed, it could be nothing else.
When I wrote this piece, I hoped that my readers – never numerous but unusually thoughtful and vociferous – would grasp the point and argue more passionately about it than my capacities allow. Maybe some did. But if so, it doesn’t seem to have done much good.
You see, “euthanasia” as its proponents described it was supposed to be something which the victim had consciously, affirmatively chosen as the best of the alternatives for relieving his suffering. In other words, it was his idea. But the “medical community,” especially in Europe, saw possibilities the rest of us did not. We old fuddy-duddy moralists simply couldn’t conceive of an argument for killing innocent, defenseless people for “the common good.”
No pull quote this time. Read the article. Read the two articles it links. Then sit back and ponder for a moment the incentives created by the increasing demand for transplant organs. And be aware as you ponder that despite all efforts to ban the practice, people are successfully bidding for and paying for preferential access to those organs.
Back in the Sixties, science fiction writer Larry Niven included in his developing “Known Space” canon a story titled “The Jigsaw Man.” If memory serves, Harlan Ellison included it in his Dangerous Visions anthology. The plot driver was a society in which transplantation technology had coupled with an increasing fear of death to yield a legal code in which execution was the penalty for virtually every kind of offense. The protagonist anticipated being executed for a traffic violation – in an operating theater, of course, so his organs could be harvested for others’ use.
There have been persistent rumors that the Communist Chinese have been performing executions in this manner. Well, if so, they’re not alone, as the article cited above should make clear. Except, of course, that the “patients” being “euthanized” by those “compassionate” Low Countries “doctors” haven’t necessarily consented to the procedure. Some of them are intellectually handicapped. Others are mentally ill. And a few just might have been “sacrificed” to the “greater good” – and a cash payment – with the connivance of their next of kin.
This is what happens once a human life is no longer considered a sacred gift from God. It’s what happens when we grant attention to moral idiots that claim that “A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” It’s what happens when self-styled “medical ethicists” such as Daniel Callahan and Zoe Fritz proclaim that physicians should treat some of their patients to death instead of life in the name of the “greater good.”
The commoditization of life cannot be halted by any but the most stringent means: relentless and rigorous prosecution of these followers of Jack Kevorkian for first-degree murder. And even with that, some will still escape, for a huge part of what was once called Christendom has embraced the fantasy of fleshly life and health unending.
Where there’s a demand, a supply will inevitably emerge.
I can’t go on about this much longer. It horrifies me too deeply. What makes it worse than the “mere facts” is that so many people are willing to entertain the idea that a human body is merely one more commodity – that “doctors” should be granted the power to kill if they deem it “in the patient’s best interests.” The easy segue to “in society’s best interests” is overlooked.
The civilized world abolished slavery on the grounds that a human life is not a commodity – that it’s the inalienable right of its possessor to continue to live it unmolested, as long as he does so without violating the equal rights of others. The reduction of that right to a commodity puts human lives on the same plane as all other tradable goods – i.e., deemed morally exchangeable for other considerations. Add that most terrible of all insubstantial arbiters, “society,” to the mix, and Niven’s “Jigsaw Man” pops over the horizon and approaches at express-train speed.
Think about that as you contemplate giving someone else – spouse, child, or anyone else – a power-of-attorney that could some day determine whether you’re to live or die. Ponder whether that “loved one” might, at some cash-strapped future time, see you as just a bag of recyclable, highly marketable parts.