Wednesday, December 01, 2004

First they Came for the Invalids, and I did not Speak Out.....
Hugh Hewitt asks, "Where is the outrage?" about the "Groningen Protocol" concerning euthanasia of the terminally ill with "no free will". Mr Hewitt links to another article from October of 2004: Euthanasia debate in Europe focuses on children:
Four times in recent months, Dutch doctors have pumped lethal doses of drugs into newborns they believe are terminally ill, setting off a new phase in a growing European debate over when, if ever, it's acceptable to hasten death for the critically ill.

Few details of the four newborns' deaths have been made public. Official investigations have found that the doctors made appropriate and professional decisions under an experimental policy allowing child euthanasia that's known as the Groningen University Hospital protocol.
"Experimental policy"? Do they not have Institutional Review Boards in Holland?
But the children's deaths, and the possibility that the protocol will become standard practice throughout the Netherlands, have sparked heated discussion about whether the idea of assisting adults who seek to die should ever be applied to children and others who are incapable of making, or understanding, such a request.

"Applying euthanasia to children is another step down the slope in this debate," said Henk Jochemsen, the director of Holland's Lindeboom Institute, which studies medical ethics. "Not everybody agrees, obviously, but when we broaden the application from those who actively and repeatedly seek to end their lives to those for whom someone else determines death is a better option, we are treading in dangerous territory."
What makes this even more troubling is the decision to euthanize a child may not rest with the parents:
A parent's role is limited under the protocol. While experts and critics familiar with the policy said a parent's wishes to let a child live or die naturally most likely would be considered, they note that the decision must be professional, so rests with doctors.
Talk about a slippery slope!
Captain Ed points out the danger when the state makes such decisions rather than the family:
It is one thing for a person to take their own life, or for the family of a brain-dead relative to pull life support. What makes this different is the state apparatus taking on that decision for themselves, deciding who among the citizens supposedly under their protection has no worth and eats up too many resources to go on living. It profoundly repudiates millennia of Western thought, which teaches that individual human life has a precious -- the religious would say sacred -- value.

Without this value at the heart of any society, when humans are valued only for their potential production and devalued for their perceived cost, the decision to end those lives deemed inconvenient to the state comes next. At first, the state limits the killing to those who cases find the broadest acceptance: unborn fetuses, terminally ill patients, and the like. After that threshold has been crossed, the next step is for someone to promulgate a protocol for the state to make the decisions about who lives and who dies. Who becomes inconvenient? The mentally retarded. The insane. The chronically ill, especially those who have incurable communicable diseases.

Or as Dr. Smith points out, those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it.
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