The Capranica

Comments on theology and life

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Location: Hemet, California, United States

Co-Pastor of First Baptist Church of San Jacinto, California

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Euthanasia's True Colors

The public debate on euthanasia tends to focus its attention upon the extremes, while ignoring the normal. We normally hear of the need to nix a life when that life is in extreme physical pain and death by natural causes is near or to go on living would simply be minute by minute agony. Opponents of euthanasia often suggest that euthanasia, if legally allowed, would bring a host of people to the death doctor for less than extreme cases. Usually such opponents are belittled for a lack of sensitivity to the tough cases among the terminally ill. The Netherlands, the liberal testing grounds for all things unethical, has just exposed the true colors of euthanasia. According to a report from the Archives of Internal Medicine, revealed that 20% of the doctors in The Netherlands had received euthanasia requests and 44% of the requests resulted in doctor assisted suicide, including taking the life of terminally ill infants. Note, from the article, why people in the Netherlands are seeking death rather than life: Project leader Bregje Onwuteaka-Philipsen said she was surprised that "the most important reasons for doing the request are not strictly medical." The survey asked physicians the reasons that patients in their most recent euthanasia case sought help in ending their own lives, with the most frequent being pointless suffering, loss of dignity and weakness. In cases in which doctors denied the requests, the most common reasons were not wanting to be a burden on their family, tired of living and depression. The 13 percent of patients who decided ultimately not to pursue euthanasia demonstrates "it is really very important to keep asking the patient (until the moment of the actual administration) whether this is what he or she wants," Onwuteaka-Philipsen wrote in an e-mail. The study does not mention the proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns designed by officials at Groningen Academic Hospital. In November, officials there revealed they had already begun carrying out such procedures, euthanizing four severely ill newborns in 2003. A Dutch government proposal on guidelines involving infants is expected to be released this fall. Yes, the inevitable is becoming reality. People who simply don't want to cope with their difficult situations are seeking death. The slope of euthanasia is indeed a slippery one. We could be only a decade away from where The Netherlands is today. What will happen to a depressed culture like ours that cannot find hope or satisfaction even while endlessly medicated when euthanasia becomes a medical option? Will our insurance companies even pay for it eventually? Don't bother arguing the tough cases any more. Euthanasia will eventually be used to take the life of non-terminally ill people who are simply sour on life. It is only a matter of time.


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