Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ideas have consequences

Response to Russel Ogden by Christina Alarcon

I would like to invite Mr. Ogden to read “A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America” written by Canadian historian Ian Dowbiggin of the University of PEI. Doing so, he would realize that his ideas about assisted suicide and euthanasia date as far back as the early 1900’s. His linking of the right to die to abortion rights also goes back to the 1960’s ideology that an individual may do as he/she wishes with his/her own body. What Ogden has perhaps not reflected on is the possibility that ideas have consequences. For example, the theories and writings of German jurist Karl Binding were used by the Nazis to justify their T4 Euthanasia Program. As Dowbiggin documents, Binding started from the position that every person had the freedom to commit suicide. He then proceeded to justify voluntary euthanasia, then mercy killing of unconscious dying individuals, and finally the humane killing of state-dependent defectives. He believed that the benefits of legalized euthanasia would far outweigh the inevitable abuses.

History, as we all know, has proved him wrong. Closer to our day, in the 1990’s reports of massive abuses being carried out in Holland should put Canadians on the alert against accepting the legalization of mercy killing. Finally, if Ogden finds it ironic that those who most avidly oppose mercy-killing are those who believe most firmly in a blissful afterlife, I find it even more ironic that those who believe in no afterlife would want to destroy the only life they’ll ever have!

Cristina Alarcon, Vancouver pharmacist and Bioethicist

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