Monday, May 15, 2023

Bioethicists: Euthanasia Okay for ‘Unjust Social Conditions’ in Canada.

This article was published by the National Review on May 13, 2023.

Wesley Smith
By Wesley J. Smith

Once killing the sufferer becomes a societally acceptable means for ending suffering, there becomes no end to the “suffering” that justifies human termination. We can see this phenomenon most vividly in Canada, because it is happening there more quickly than in most cultures. For example, a recent poll found that 27 percent of Canadians polled strongly or moderately agree that euthanasia is acceptable for suffering caused by “poverty” and 28 percent strongly or moderately agree that killing by doctors is acceptable for suffering caused by homelessness.

Euthanasia mutates a society’s soul. I can’t imagine that being true ten years ago before euthanasia became legal.

This kind of abandoned thinking finds enthusiastic, albeit not unanimous, expression among secular bioethicists. In fact, two Canadian bioethicists just published a paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics — a prestigious British Medical Journal publication — arguing that “unjust social conditions” justify lethal jabs (euphemistically called MAiD, for “medical assistance in dying”). The argument claims that killing is a form of “harm reduction.”

The authors even admit such cases have already occurred legally in Canada. From “Choosing Death in Unjust Conditions: Hope, Autonomy, and Harm Reduction” (my emphasis):

In 2022, an individual in Canada, who had been diagnosed with multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), received MAiD. However, by their own description, their decision to choose MAiD was driven primarily by the fact that they were unable to access affordable housing compatible with MCS. While it was true that they suffered from an illness, disease or disability that caused ‘enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to them and cannot be relieved under conditions that they consider acceptable’ as specified under the eligibility criteria of Bill C-14 [that recently expanded eligibility beyond death being “reasonably foreseeable], the primary source of their suffering was an inability to find appropriate housing, not the condition itself. Another person, also with MCS, writes: ‘I’ve applied for MAiD essentially because of abject poverty’.

Good grief. The patient in question is dead — not because of their medical but housing conditions. And doctors used the physical issues as pretext for justifying the killing as within the law!

The authors approve of allowing euthanasia for reasons of social injustice as a means of “harm reduction.” And in the context of medical issues, the authors claim that this includes killing patients who would not want to die if they could access proper treatment:

In the case of the availability of MAiD in Canada to people who not only might but have explicitly said they would choose differently if they had access to the options they preferred, we argue that the least harmful way forward is to allow MAiD to be available.
This, even though Canada’s socialized health-care system is in crisis:
Access to healthcare across nearly all dimensions continues to deteriorate in the wake of the pandemic even outside of long-term and palliative care, from basic care, to surgical backlogs, to a general consensus that the system is in a state of collapse. In this context, refusing options to people who autonomously pursue MAiD amounts to perpetuating their suffering, hoping that this will ultimately lead to a better, more ‘just’ world. This is a world that currently does not exist and is unlikely to emerge in the near future. Even if it did, it is unfortunately even more unlikely that the people whose current suffering has led them to request MAiD will realise its benefits.
So, socialized medicine fails, and a splendid answer to the problem for patients in need is euthanasia. Do you see now why I call euthanasia/assisted suicide “abandonment?”

The authors conclude:
We disagree with any claim that the unjust lack of choices available to people is alone sufficient to undermine their autonomy. Those who launch legal proceedings or request and receive MAiD are unlikely examples of people whose reduced opportunities have led them to lose all hope and motivation for pursuing personally meaningful courses of action. Moreover, neither a reduction of opportunities in itself, nor the existence of oppressive ableist norms, is sufficient to directly undermine autonomy…Restricting an autonomous choice to pursue MAiD due to the injustice of current non-ideal circumstances causes more harm than allowing the choice to pursue MAiD, even though that choice is deeply tragic.
Bioethics is growing increasingly monstrous. And that matters because these are the so-called “experts” who exert tremendous influence on our laws and regulations, in court rulings, over the attitudes of journalists, among the purveyors of popular culture, and, ultimately, upon public attitudes.

Moreover, Canada is our closest cultural cousin. If such a crass death-embracing attitude developed there so quickly with the legalization of euthanasia, it will happen here too — and, indeed, almost all state laws allowing doctor-prescribed death already expanded their guidelines. Which is why, if we want to follow the truly compassionate course, it is a matter of great urgency that we reject all further legalization of assisted suicide in the United States.


Unknown said...

How much more nonchalant about life can people be? Do that many Canadians support Assisted Suicide, hate living so much that Parliament and the Prime Minister feel no obligation to defend life? As one who survived several challenges to my presence here, it is the rare person whose life is challenged who does not come to value it more and protect it more. Anyone who says, "I couldn't live like that," has never had to face such challenges, that they would justify an act of violence as an act of compassion. When do we then make the case in court that a mass shooter is putting terminal patients out of their misery - after all, life is a terminal process in which everyone eventually is overtaken by death. It may sound extreme, but we are in an age where extremes seem to take some precedence over common sense, where laws are deciding the public morality.

Deacon Bill Gallerizzo
Catholic Bioethics

gordon friesen said...

There is a deeply ironic twist to this logic which has not yet received wide attention: Public healthcare is promoted as a means of fairly providing "care" for everyone. And it is the assumed boast of the welfare State that such a State can indeed provide for the needs of all. However, there are practical limits beyond which it is impossible to respond to legitimate need, as forever remembered in the naive statement of Marie Antoinette, if bread lacks, "Let them eat cake". Yet unfortunately for Marie, and her equally well-meaning and naive successors, there has never been a sufficient volume of benefits to be awarded.

And that is the problem: Social theorists refuse to admit the limits of their endeavor. For them, it is an axiomatic truth that once the "oppressor" has been dealt with, all problems will disappear. And to maintain that pretense, a solution must be found, any solution at all, no matter how drastic.

That is where euthanasia fits in. By eliminating the sufferers, it can perversely be claimed that the Providential State has indeed kept faith, that suffering has been cured. Not only medical, but any sort of suffering at all.

This is shameful beyond description. Since the beginning of time, people have suffered, and they have lamented their suffering, and the body politic was disturbed at its inability to right the wrong. And common people were constantly aware of the existence of a want that even their most earnest charitable efforts could not allay. People were forced to personally witness and to regret, deaths they could not prevent. But, now, for the first time, it is suggested that we should no longer be forced to contemplate the realities of life, that unhappy people should actually be killed to protect us from the evidence of our current impotence.

Again, in the past, it was precisely that suffering which motivated us to do more and to produce technologies and social forms which had greater capacity. For pain provides the motivation to find cures, on every level of the social enterprise. But now, we are invited to give up that quest. If unhappy people are suffering, it is their own damn fault. They should just shut up and take their medicine. Society in this vision, has no need or motivation to progress. We have achieved (or can pretend that we have achieved) the paradise which was promised. And any evidence of the contrary will be suppressed, with the death of those whose life would contest our pretense.

That is the new safe and equitable society of justice and inclusion which we are to experience in our equally appalling new "fifteen minute" human storage facilities. Orwell himself would be at a loss for words.

sophie jensen said...

Golly gosh ... if the fact of homelessness is a reason for terminating the homeless, who quite obviously are suffering, then that obviates the need for governments to reduce the situation of homelessness, doesn't it? Only with an 'autonomous' request for the process? How soon will that deteriorate into something even more sinister than it is now?
If the System is on the point of collapse, then something needs to be done about the System, not about those who are the silent victims of that collapse. Whatever happened to the so-called 'Social Conscience'? I am totally floored by this, even after reading all of the other excuses used to end people's lives.

gordon friesen said...

It is necessary to admit limits, and to behave morally within those limits.

Of course we want to do everything possible for the disadvantaged. But the operative word is "possible". Even if there is no further "help" available or possible for any given individual there is no morality in killing anybody!

For those who believe someone is to blame for that, it is unfortunately a proven historical fact that even if we dispossess and even eat the rich, there will still not be enough cake to go around.

So to repeat the main point, we have to behave morally in an imperfect world. And the very first principle to maintain any kind of civilized life, is a prohibition against killing one another.