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Reblogged:Physician-Assisted Suicide ≠ Execution

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Over at Hot Air is the latest example I've encountered of the conservative moral panic over/smear campaign against physician-assisted suicide.

The post, by David Strom, is dishonestly titled as "Netherlands Killing People for Being Autistic or Mentally Handicapped," and morally equates the Netherlands with Nazi Germany, accusing the Netherlands of "going full Nazi."

One barely needs to look into this accusation to see that it is bunk.

In fact, the first place I looked, the Wikipedia article on "Euthanasia in the Netherlands" makes it clear that the only thing the Netherlands is "killing people for" is repeatedly asking for it while being able to give meaningful consent:
The state should not have the power to execute anyone. The state providing a legal framework for someone to obtain help ending his own life is not the same thing, and it is something the state should be doing. (Image by Jacques-Louis David, via Wikipedia, public domain.)
The law allows medical review board to suspend prosecution of doctors who performed euthanasia when each of the following conditions are fulfilled:
  • the patient's suffering is unbearable with no prospect of improvement
  • the patient's request for euthanasia must be voluntary and persist over time (the request cannot be granted when under the influence of others, psychological illness or drugs)
  • the patient must be fully aware of his/her condition, prospects, and options
  • there must be consultation with at least one other independent doctor who needs to confirm the conditions mentioned above
  • the death must be carried out in a medically appropriate fashion by the doctor or patient, and the doctor must be present
  • the patient is at least 12 years old (patients between 12 and 16 years of age require the consent of their parents)
The doctor must also report the cause of death to the municipal coroner in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Burial and Cremation Act. [link omitted, bold added]
While I am inclined to think legal majority should be the minimum age for consent here, I see nothing to suggest that the state is executing people for mental defects or carrying out some kind of forcible eugenics program.

Let's momentarily set aside the fact that the state shouldn't be running any part of the economy, including the medical sector, and get to the point: I see absolutely no indication that the Netherlands is violating individual rights in the way that it has set up its assisted suicide process.

That said, Strom plays to the legitimate fear that socialized medicine could well lead to the state encouraging euthanasia, if not actually declaring it to be the treatment for certain conditions:
In fascist and communist regimes, both statist rather than rights-based, the only metric that counts is one's value to the state.
This, dropping some context I'll get to in a moment, would be the absolute best case I could see for opposing physician-assisted suicide.

But that's ultimately an argument against socialized medicine, not physician-assisted suicide, which is a right and should absolutely be legal in a free society.

But even this isn't what Strom is arguing. Here's, as Paul Harvey would have put it, the rest of the story, with my comments [in brackets]:
It shouldn't take a bioethicist to explain why disabled people should be allowed to live; it should only require having a soul. [Every human being has an inalienable right to his own life, which includes ending it. As far as I can tell, the Netherlands is "allowing" the disabled to live. It is also protecting their right to end their own lives humanely with medical assistance if they choose to do so.]

This attitude, though, is implicit in modernist materialism that defines the value of life for oneself as being entirely defined by one's ability to be entirely hedonistic, and whose value to others is determined by one's cost to society. Life, in and of itself, has no value. [What attitude? Although I am an atheist, I am not a materialist and I oppose hedonism for selfish reasons: I simply want the state to do its job and protect my options should I choose to end my own life. Where is the evidence that the Netherlands is forcing or even encouraging this?]

In fascist and communist regimes, both statist rather than rights-based, the only metric that counts is one's value to the state. Modern Western societies add a couple more variables: the ability to indulge in sexual pleasure in particular. [The swipe near the end at abortion-- which does not take a human life -- is telling.]

You do get to be judged on a sliding scale, though, based on some intersectional sliding scale, a kind of affirmative action of human value. [Call me crazy, but I believe the person doing the "judging" here -- of whether his own life is worth keeping -- is the person himself. Trivializing such a weighty decision as on a par with leftist academic fads or even as "voting" is an attempt to bully into silence anyone who would hold that a man -- not the state, and not an imaginary god -- owns his own life.]

No matter what the criteria used, the bottom line is the same: because life is not a gift from God, your fellow human beings get a vote regarding whether you may live. [QED, and note the forgotten man (or at least the one Strom hopes you will forget) is you. A state protecting the right to suicide is not the same thing as a state running concentration camps, and it is dishonest and beyond obscene to draw such a parallel.]
It think it is clear why the "rights are a gift from God" crowd opposes physician-assisted suicide: It is because they imagine that it displeases a being (that they imagine out of whole cloth), and their whole conception of morality begins and ends at a list of commands having everything to do with "pleasing" this being -- and nothing to do with reason, with living on this earth, or with happiness.

-- CAV

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