Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Euthanasia is defined as the intentional killing of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit. My main problem with euthanasia is the same one I have with 'capital punishment'. Who decides? Even if the person themselves makes the actual decision are we sure that they were "competent" to make that decision or not imposed on. Ideally the best government is 'benign dictatorship' however the key word here is 'benign' and given the millions or billions killed by governments over the years I'd be hard pressed to consider any government 'benign". Further I've heard literally hundreds of people tell me that they wanted to die and not long after 'changed' their minds. After years of work in psychiatry I know so many people who were once suicidal because the 'pain' was 'unbearable' or their lives simply stank yet today have rich and fulfilled lives and wouldn't think of suicide. Also I've commonly encountered people with drug and alcohol addictions who simply were not in their 'right mind' when they were sure they wanted to die. It's clearly not something I as a doctor want to see doctors involved in because there's that terrible 'conflict of interest'. I remember being similiarly irritated when I heard marriage 'therapists' say that they 'facilitated' divorce. There's the slippery slope phenomena too when a society begins killing for any reason, since killing is so easy, it's hard to stop it, really. The gas chambers aren't that long ago. Euthanasia is cheap too and that's what concerns me. Abortion was the state's cheap solution and very lucrative for the wealthy abortionist doctors. I suspect euthanasia would become one of those highest paid medical specialties like abortion has become too. In contrast, "palliative care" units and nursing homes are expensive. How a society cares for it's elderly and dependent is really a reflection of the quality of the society as a whole. Right now "non active euthanasia or 'assisted suicide" is legal in Oregon, Washington and Montana as well as Albania and Luxemberg. "Active Euthanasia" is legal in the Netherlands and Belgium. I heard one old person complaining in the Netherlands that they were being 'guilted' into euthanasia. I've witnessed too much elder abuse here with families taking advantage of the elderly to take their assets. Even in hospitals it's such a common complaint that the elderly are advised routinely to remove their jewelry before going to hospital because theft from the elderly is that common. Almost as easy as taking a life. Euthanasia is spreading and it's well worth watching carefully.