Culture & Ethics Icon Culture & Ethics
Medicine Icon Medicine

Euthanasia’s Cultural Collateral Damage: Less Respect for Human Life

Photo credit: Kuebi = Armin Kübelbeck [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons.

Euthanasia causes egregious cultural damage beyond the direct consequences of allowing the killing — or facilitating the suicides — of sick and disabled people. Eventually, the lives of the elderly, disabled, mentally ill, and seriously ill come to be seen as less valuable than the “healthy” and able-bodied — to the point that their homicides are often winked at by society. We saw this phenomenon during Jack Kevorkian’s mass assisted suicides in the ’90s, supported by much of the media and accompanied by the unwillingness of several juries to convict for nearly a decade.

A recent homicide case in Canada further illustrates the point. As regular readers of my work are well aware, Canada has fallen off the euthanasia moral cliff by allowing broad categories of people to be killed by doctors as a means of ending “suffering.” But that denigrating attitude toward people with serious health conditions is catching on, and now, a man, Francois Belzile, who killed his disabled wife has only had his wrist lightly slapped by a judge for the crime. 

No Question About the Impact

From the Edmonton Journal story:

A retired accountant who killed his severely disabled wife will be allowed to serve his sentence on house arrest rather than in prison, with a judge ruling the accused’s “caregiver burnout” lessens his moral responsibility for the crime.

Belzile pleaded guilty last month to manslaughter for injecting Christiane Belzile — a 69-year-old, non-verbal stroke survivor for whom Francois Belzile had been sole caregiver for seven years — with a lethal dose of insulin after she was injured in a fall in 2018. Belzile then tried to end his own life.

Despite Francois’s refusal of state assistance — and a threat before the crime to end both their lives if they ceased to be able to live “independently” — he was deemed unable to form intent to murder and allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter. Good grief.

There is no question that euthanasia advocacy and legalization impacted the case:

[Defense attorney] Hurley added that Belzile saw his actions as “the compassionate shortening of the final step.” Hurley also noted societal attitudes toward assisted death are rapidly changing, noting, “The world has changed since Latimer, at least in Canada.”

(Canadian Robert Latimer murdered his daughter Traci, who was disabled by cerebral palsy, back in the ’90s. He served about ten years — but only because it was mandatory — and had the support of a majority of Canadian people according to polls.)

Out of His Misery

So, in essence, Francios put Christiane out of his misery and out of pride — i.e., his preferring death over dependency — and the judge winked at the crime by imposing such a light sentence for an egregious act.

What a frightening illustration of the lowered respect for “compromised” human life that euthanasia consciousness breeds. People with disabling conditions and those who love them should be terrified.

Cross-posted at The Corner.