Our utterly irreplaceable Discovery Institute colleague Wesley Smith writes shockingly in First Things about a case in Canada that may reveal the next frontier in legalized, indeed mandatory murder:
Self-starvation has become the latest craze among the "death with dignity" crowd. This has been coming on for some time. Removing feeding tubes from cognitively disabled people who can’t swallow has been allowed for decades, under the right to refuse unwanted "medical treatment." But what about people who can eat and drink by mouth? Assisted suicide advocates argue that it isn’t fair that they can’t die too.
So, activists promote a form of "self-deliverance" that they call "voluntary stopping eating and drinking," (VSED), by which suicidal people declare their wish to starve to death. As a matter of respecting autonomy, doctors won’t force feed these suicidal people. Some even agree to facilitate the death by helping palliate the potential agony that can be associated with starving and dehydrating.
Some bioethicists even argue that nursing homes and hospitals should be legally required to starve patients who can eat and drink, if they have serious dementia and have ordered their starvation deaths in an advance medical directive. In Canada, a lawsuit has already been filed, and I consider it the most important — and dangerous — litigation in bioethics today.
The case involves Margo Bentley, a woman from British Columbia. A believer in assisted suicide, Bentley signed an advance directive instructing that she be refused life-sustaining medical treatment and even be euthanized if she had Alzheimer’s and could no longer recognize her children. Bentley is now in that condition, but she doesn’t require life support — so there is no treatment to withdraw — and willingly accepts food and water by mouth, meaning that the conditions of her directive aren’t met. And as for euthanasia, it’s illegal in Canada. Thus, there is no immediately available legal way to make her dead even though that is what she clearly wanted.
What is the end game here?
If the law ever allows people to pre-order their own starvation, we will have crossed a deadly Rubicon: The supposed bright line dividing the right to refuse medical treatment from a purported right to euthanasia will be obliterated. Doctors and nurses may be legally required to become killers in a way that in other contexts would be considered torture and an egregious abuse of human rights. Finally, once we can starve patients, even though they willingly eat, the obvious question arises: "Why not just give them lethal injections?"
Actually, I believe that has been the goal all along. The starvation agenda is merely the horrid means intended to lead us to that horrible end.
Meanwhile at National Review Online, Wesley notes:
The poison has jumped across the Atlantic from Netherlands and Belgium: Quebec has legalized active euthanasia.