Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Who really wants to die? (A Brief Quantitative Analysis of the Purported “Need” for Euthanasia)

This is the first in a series of articles by Gordon Friesen examining who really wants to die?

Gordon Friesen

The euthanasia debate is now raging all around the “developed” world, at different stages, at different rates and with different points of contention. In some places, the question is about whether any “assisted” death will be allowed; in others, whether admission criteria and formalities will now be adapted to allow greater access; whether the modus of death will be suicide (only) or homicide (also); whether providing death is legitimate medical care; whether death is a “right” for the mentally “capable”; whether, therefore, the incapable shall also possess that “right” and benefit from that “care”; whether the State will guarantee (and even provide) its delivery (as in Canada); and whether individual medical professionals will be effectively coerced to provide it.

In other words, efforts are going forward, in every country: to enlarge, to facilitate, and if I may say – to maximize – the recourse to assisted death in our contemporary society. But how is that possible? Indeed how did we get here? Let us take a step back to ponder these questions.

From the beginning, then ... Who really asked for euthanasia? Who is it for?

That to be sure, is a question of the utmost importance, because, in any economic theory, the scale of a proposed service (“supply”) must always be proportionate to its’ “demand”. And therefore, euthanasia, as a service, should never be allowed to occupy a place in our society – and certainly not in our medical practice -- which is larger than can be justified by the number of those eligible individuals who actually desire it.

So what then, is the true “demand” for euthanasia? And does it match the scale of the service now provided? Can it justify the consequent transformation of medical culture in Canada?

Apparently, and unfortunately in this regard, expectation has far outstripped observed reality. For overwhelming public perception now holds that suffering people have, indeed, collectively demanded and achieved (in the time-honored tradition of popular struggle) the “right” to die.

Now, I am sure that many reading this will take issue with the accuracy of that perception (and especially with the assumptions at its root). However, I do not doubt that the average supporter of assisted death truly believed (and indeed still believes) that in legalizing euthanasia, he (or she) has mercifully granted an informed wish for death, expressed on the part of a whole class of real people, who are afflicted with what seems (to them) unbearable suffering.

In other words, the prevailing public opinion, aided by an orchestrated urgency emanating from virtually all of mass media (itself under the influence of nearly unanimous intellectual fashion), holds that the sick and the disabled positively desire the voluntary right to die, and that assisted death was legalized in order to permit the satisfaction of that desire.

Clearly, if that were indeed true, the entire enterprise would also be justified (in an economic sense). But is it (true)? And where did such a popular opinion originate in the first place?

to be continued...

Gordon Friesen, is a Euthanasia Prevention Coalition board member and Advisory Assistant Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia Montreal, Quebec.

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