Has medically assisted death become ‘a way to kill the vulnerable’ with suicide ‘inducing hopelessness’?

Has medically assisted death become ‘a way to kill the vulnerable’ with suicide ‘inducing hopelessness’?


A year ago, Switzerland legalised a fancy new way for people to kill themselves that is likely to appeal to young people – a space-age “coffin-like capsule with windows” designed so that the decedent-to-be can push a button, flood the interior with nitrogen and die within 10 minutes.

In 2017, Kees van der Staaij, the leader of the Netherlands’ Christian SGP party, communicated his concerns – in the Wall Street Journal, no less – about his country’s “euthanasia culture,” and other prominent figures agreed the situation might be “getting out of hand.”

That year, Dutch politicians discussed the option of legalising euthanasia for “perfectly healthy” people, allowing “any person age 75 or over who decides their life is ‘complete’ to receive euthanasia.”

In 2015, Belgian doctors agreed to euthanise a healthy 24-year-old woman who convinced herself of a lifelong “death wish” despite growing up “with a quiet, stable family.”

Canada’s 2021 relaxation of its criteria for hastening death suggests that concerns about an out-of-hand process are legitimate – 219 individuals “whose natural deaths were not reasonably foreseeable” immediately opted that year for assisted death, with nearly half of that group (46 per cent) citing “neurological” problems as a reason to die.

Between 2011 and 2014 in the Netherlands, doctors euthanised 110 individuals solely for mental disorders, including a man in his 30s “whose only diagnosis was autism.”

In a study published in 2020, European researchers cautioned that granting euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (EAS) “based on a perception of the patient’s illness as being untreatable with no prospect of improvement, could … in many cases fail to meet the due care criteria listed in EAS laws.”

They added, “This practice neglects the individual’s potential for having a life worth living.”

In Canada, the Netherlands and elsewhere, some suggest that the ranks of assisted suicide candidates increasingly are likely to include not just youth and the mentally ill but also other marginalized groups, such as the homeless, the poor, the disabled, those with chronic pain — and “even dissenters who the government feels are not fit for society.”

Critics posit that instead of preserving human dignity, medically assisted death “seems to be a way to kill the vulnerable,” with the availability of assisted suicide “inducing hopelessness … and removing pressure for an improvement in psychiatric and social services.”

In fact, cost-benefit analyses have been creeping into the assisted death calculus for some time, with research and reports issued in advance of Canada’s 2021 amendments describing how doctor-assisted death could “save millions.”

Observers also note “the pressure on aging, low-birth-rate societies to cut their healthcare costs” and describe doctors “allegedly suggesting [assisted suicide] to … sick people seeking a quietus for reasons linked to financial stress.”

Even euthanasia’s most ardent supporters are concerned that the “financial gutting of the healthcare sector” will encourage desperate people to resort to assisted death.

In the US, physician-assisted suicide is legal for adults in 10 states plus the nation’s capital, with half having legalised it just in the last five years: Oregon (law passed in 1994 and implemented in 1997), Washington (2009), Montana (2009), Vermont (2013), California (2015), Colorado (2016), the District of Columbia (2017), Hawaii (2018), Maine (2019), New Jersey (2019) and New Mexico (2021).

Reflecting the pandemic-spurred trend toward remote healthcare, Vermont’s governor signed a law this year to permit telemedicine as a route for “aid in dying.” The bill makes it possible for patients to waive the “two in-person consults and … 48-hour waiting period” ordinarily required to get a prescription and also grants healthcare providers and pharmacists full legal immunity.

The enthusiasm that these jurisdictions display for the “freedom” to die – employing loft rhetoric about “dignity” and “humane” policies – contrasts sharply with their abysmal and malevolent performance during the pandemic, when all (with the exception of Montana) stood out in their willingness to destroy people’s livelihoods and use authoritarian measures to suppress constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.

The contrast was also evident in Spain, which chose – coincidentally or not – to legalise adult euthanasia in 2021. The same prime minister who vigorously enforced pandemic lockdowns and restrictions unironically declared that the euthanasia decision made his country “more humane, fairer and freer.”

As the pandemic disturbingly revealed, however, it is not just overt euthanasia that is on the rise – governments also appear increasingly willing to put their citizens to death without admitting to it.

In the UK, which nominally promises a jail sentence of up to 14 years for those who help others to die, credible on-the-ground reports described the use of covert euthanasia as a “medical protocol,” with damning evidence including the health secretary’s unprecedented acquisition of a two-year supply of the execution drug midazolam in March 2020.

Citizens refer to the death of more than 136,000 elderly residents of UK care homes since April 2020 as the “Midazolam Murders,” but they also point out that “the UK Government and its institutions have been acting as if euthanasia is perfectly legal” for far longer, since at least 2008.

The ventilator- and remdesivir-only Covid-19 protocols inflexibly adhered to by US hospitals immune from liability and salivating over hefty financial incentives – were another form of covert murder, as was the withholding around the world of safe and inexpensive treatments such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.

And of course, the aggressive imposition of mandates for known-to-be-dangerous Covid-19 shots took government-instigated death and disability to even more shocking levels. Describing how medically assisted suicide has become a cherished “progressive” and “liberal” value, one writer asks, “What if a society remains liberal but ceases to be civilised?”

As the cultural conditioning favouring euthanasia ramps up, citizens everywhere urgently need to query their governments’ uncivilised motives for both silently and openly celebrating death, rather than life.

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