What About the Children? The Slippery Slope of Juvenile Euthanasia
January 28, 2013 § 2 Comments
I’m not camping on this platform but I can’t leave it without talking about the children.
In my last blog I joined the others lifting up their voices about Marc and Eddy Verbessen, the 45-year-old deaf twins in Belgium, who chose euthanasia rather than await total blindness. Although they weren’t suffering from a terminal illness, what they did has been legal in Belgium since 2002.
Shortly after Marc and Eddy were killed, Belgium’s ruling Socialist party went one step further and introduced a legal amendment to allow the euthanasia of children and Alzheimer’s sufferers. The legislation hasn’t come up for debate yet but is expected to pass. To qualify, minors are supposed to be “capable of discernment or affected by an incurable illness or suffering that we cannot alleviate.” By whose standards will discernment or suffering be measured? Will a three year-old with birth defects not be allowed to live, or a ten-year-old who is suffering pain be administered a lethal injection? Will an Alzheimer patient be able to demonstrate discernment? Will the government get to choose?
Under the 2002 euthanasia law in Belgium, doctors can terminate the lives of infants under the age of 12 months by deliberate medical intervention if the baby is disabled or deficient and likely to suffer as a result. In some 16 percent of cases studied, parental consent wasn’t considered.
The slippery slope of assisted suicide is frightening. The Center for Bioethics and Culture says, “The history of the last forty years shows unequivocally that a society which permits or legalizes euthanasia and assisted suicide for the few, embarks on a path leading inexorably to permissive mercy killing of the many.”
I live in Washington State where, along with Oregon and Montana, a physician-assisted suicide law is already on the books, albeit with stricter guidelines than in the Netherlands and Belgium. What’s next?
The extreme of this slippery slope is Nazi Germany’s elimination of “lives unworthy of life.” Before they began killing Jews, Gypsies and political opponents, they dispensed with the unwanted: the disabled, the old, the mentally ill.
In allowing legislation that leads ultimately to this slippery slope have we lost our way to the high road of valuing life? Is the love expressed by a Down Syndrome child of less value and not worthy of life? Is the selfless care shown to a severely disabled child by loving parents of no value? Is a child needing a kidney transplant not worthy of life? Are there no miracles, no answers to prayer?
Jesus Christ said when his disciples shooed off children that were brought to him, “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these” (Matthew 19:14, The Message).
copyright 2013 Inger Logelin