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“Thank You for Waiting. The Doctor Will Kill You Now…”

Michael Egnor
Photo credit: Stefan Schranz via Pixabay.

The Canadian medical system has embraced euthanasia with dreadful vigor. From the Associated Press

Alan Nichols had a history of depression and other medical issues, but none were life-threatening. When the 61-year-old Canadian was hospitalized in June 2019 over fears he might be suicidal, he asked his brother to “bust him out” as soon as possible.

Within a month, Nichols submitted a request to be euthanized and he was killed, despite concerns raised by his family and a nurse practitioner.

His application for euthanasia listed only one health condition as the reason for his request to die: hearing loss.

Canada has some of the most permissive euthanasia laws in the world and allows people with disabilities to be killed on request. Depression and even hearing loss can serve as the basis for the doctor’s fatal needle. The pro-euthanasia group Dying with Dignity defends “medically assisted death” (i.e., medical killing) by insisting that it is “driven by compassion, an end to suffering, discrimination and desire for personal autonomy.”

An Odd Justification

“An end to suffering” is an odd justification for euthanasia. Euthanasia does not end suffering — it ends the sufferer. After all, euthanasia ends depression or pain or hearing loss in the same way that death ends acne or a heel spur. It ends the person. It’s like fixing a house with a broken window by burning down the house — there is no longer a house with a broken window! There is no medical sense to be made of describing the killing of a patient as a “medical treatment.” Killing a patient with cancer doesn’t cure his cancer. Killing a man who suffers doesn’t cure his suffering. 

Personal autonomy, of course, is only for the autonomous. And the people most in need of protection from homicidal doctors with needles are precisely those patients who have little autonomy — the sick and dying and the mentally ill. People who are genuinely autonomous get what they want — by definition. But people who suffer often lack autonomy, and they get what others want done to them. Basing medical ethics on autonomy, while neglecting human dignity, is a prescription for a holocaust of vulnerable people. 

An All-Purpose “Cure”

Since doctors in Canada can legally kill for hearing loss, how much longer must we wait for social euthanasia? There is no end to the suffering we could eliminate. A homeless person? A lone immigrant? A widow? A handicapped man with no family? An elderly woman in a nursing home? An inmate in solitary confinement? An adolescent with mental illness? Killing is an all-purpose “cure.” 

Euthanasia is homicide under a medical imprimatur. It covers the dark business of killing unwanted people under a white coat. Euthanasia in the 21st century is just the successor to the Aktion T4 program in the 20th century, but the 21st century is an age in which a Doctor’s Trial is little to be feared. Abortion, physician-assisted suicide, and euthanasia are just signposts along this road — the road to dehumanization and disposal of people who are vulnerable, or expensive, or a nuisance, or just forgotten. It’s a final solution to the problem of human suffering — the elimination not of the suffering, but of the sufferer.

We are entering a Brave New World in which crimes against humanity are eliminated by legalizing them.