By Wesley J. Smith
We have sufficient experience with assisted suicide/euthanasia to understand where it leads — an ever-expanding regime of medicalized killing and acceptance of the dangerous concept of the life not worth living — all under the guise of so-called “death with dignity” (as if dying naturally isn’t dignified).
Still, euthanasia activists keep telling us that their agenda is unstoppable. Sometimes, it seems that way, I admit. And it depresses the h— out of me. But then, sometimes light penetrates the growing darkness.
Such an event just occurred. The Danish Council of Ethics has rejected legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide by a 16–1 vote. From the English-language press release:
After much deliberation and discussion in the Danish Council of Ethics, a majority of 16 of the council’s 17 members have come to the conclusion that there is too much at stake regarding our basic view of humanity for euthanasia to be introduced in Denmark.
Why? First, creating legislation that truly protects the vulnerable isn’t possible:
All Members recognise that for some there will be situations where the desire to hasten one’s own death and the desire to help another human being into death will be understandable. However, given this, the majority of Council members do not consider it possible to develop legislation that would function properly while protecting the esteem of those who are most vulnerable in society.
Second, legalizing doctor-prescribed or -administered death changes society’s perception of the inherent worth and value of ill, disabled, and other suffering people:
In their explanatory statements, the 16 Council members also emphasize that the very existence of an offer of euthanasia risks decisively changing our perceptions of old age, the advent of death, quality of life and what it means to be considerate of others. Once euthanasia becomes an option, the risk that it will affect the view of certain groups in society is too great.
That process is very clear to anyone paying attention, particularly in the Netherlands, Belgium, and most excruciatingly among our closest cultural cousins in Canada. But even more restrictive laws, such as in Oregon, have produced clear examples of abuse and abandonment of the ill rather than providing truly compassionate care.
If someone is suicidal — for whatever reason — the humane response is prevention and caring intervention to help remediate the cause of suicide ideation, not telling the suffering person that their lives are indeed not worth living by facilitating their deaths. Otherwise, we will become a culture that is pro-suicide in some cases. And the categories of people deemed worthy of hastened death will continually expand until — as Germany’s highest court already has — we institute a system of death on demand.
Editor’s note. This appeared at National Review and is reposted with permission.