The Culture of Death is Heroin

by The Center for Bioethics and Culture on March 26, 2008

The culture of death is like heroin: Once you start to mainline, it is never enough.

Consider the experience of the Netherlands. When euthanasia was quasi-legalized there by court order in 1973, access to mercy killing and assisted suicide were supposed to be limited to the very few. The killing would all be governed by euthanasia guidelines that, the Dutch people were assured, would protect against abuse. These included repeated requests, a lingering desire for death, second medical opinions, and a requirement that euthanasia was the only way to eliminate severe pain or suffering.

It hasn’t turned out that way, of course. Since 1973 — alas, with the general support of the Dutch people — Dutch medical ethics have fallen off a sheer vertical moral cliff. Doctors there now provide euthanasia/assisted suicide for the terminally ill who ask for it, the chronically ill who ask for it, people with disabilities who ask for it, and, according to several Dutch studies, even about 900 people per year of people who have not asked to be killed. The Dutch even have a name for non voluntary euthanasia — “termination without request or consent” — which is technically murder but is rarely prosecuted, and never significantly punished when charges are brought. For example, according to a 2003 article published in the British Medical Journal, a physician who had terminated the life of a nursing home patient without request received a one week prison sentence suspended for two years. But not to worry: The court claimed that this tiny fingernail tap was not merely “symbolic.”

As readers of the CBC newsletter already know, Dutch doctors also engage in eugenic infanticide, which is also technically murder under Dutch law, but which is now deemed so respectable that the “Groningen Protocol” was published to govern its application — and it is well on the way to becoming the legal standard for eventual legalization.

Dutch doctors also assist the suicides of the depressed. This practice was explicitly sanctioned by the Dutch Supreme Court in 1993 in the case of psychiatrist Boutdewijn Chabot, who assisted the suicide of a patient — not because she had cancer, not because she was even physically ill — but because she was in desperate grief over the deaths of her two sons. The highest court in the Netherlands ruled that Chabot was right, that suffering is suffering and it doesn’t matter whether the cause is physical or emotional — which of course, is logical once you accept euthanasia consciousness.

But even this wide-open killing license didn’t satiate the Dutch death addiction. In 2001, when the Dutch Parliament formally legalized euthanasia, the Minister of Health suggested that elderly people who are “tired of life” but whose conditions do not qualify for euthanasia — as if that actually matters in the Netherlands — should have access to a suicide pill with which to kill themselves. And now, Dr. Chabot — the same psychiatrist who assisted the suicide of the grieving mother — has apparently contributed to a new how-to-commit-suicide guide.

According to the Telegraph:

A scientific guide to DIY suicide is to go on sale in the Netherlands to help people end their lives quickly and painlessly. The book, the first of its kind to be published, is by a group of respected scientists and psychiatrists. It contains detailed information on using drugs as well as committing suicide by starvation, including the quickest and least painful way to do it. There are also chapters on the ethical and judicial questions for those who aid suicides. Its authors are also planning English, French and German editions.

Author and psychiatrist Boudewijn Chabot said: “Doctors learn little about this subject during their training. This book is for people who want to make their own decisions about ending their own lives.”

What is remarkable is that the Dutch have publicly worried about their already high suicide rate — including a disturbing trend toward increased youth suicide. But what does any of this matter. Once a society takes the first culture of death injection, it will find that no matter how liberal the suicide/euthanasia rules, it is never liberal enough.

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