Legalizing euthanasia is a dangerous step

This article was written by Derek Miedema and published in the Waterloo RecordBy Derek Miedema

Legalized euthanasia is not about choice. The Netherlands and Belgium show what it's really about: a societal change that allows needledoctors to see death as the best solution to suffering. That's bad news for anyone who is suffering and wants help to live.

Imagine, for example, you were diagnosed with cancer. After the doctor drops this bombshell on you, he offers to kill you. You might realize killing is not medicine, but that's exactly what it's become in the Netherlands and Belgium. Here's how.

The Netherlands now permits euthanasia for the terminally ill, the mentally ill, and even babies with certain illnesses if parents approve. There have been discussions to allow anyone 70 and tired of life to be killed if they request it. For nearly all suffering in the Netherlands, death is a solution.

Toms-mumRecently in Belgium, Tom Mortier's mother, Godelieva De Troyer, was killed by euthanasia. She was clinically depressed and had cut off contact with her son against his wishes. Mortier only found out when he was called to make arrangements for her body at the morgue.

Nathan Verhelst, 44, was born Nancy - to a mother who hated girls. Nancy eventually had a sex change operation to become a man, but the results didn't meet his expectations. Though his friends pleaded with him to live, Nathan was killed because doctors saw death as the best solution to his suffering.

The Belgian Society of Intensive Care Medicine is arguing that euthanasia should become regular practice in intensive care units in Belgium. "It must be made clear that the final decision is made by the care team and not by the relatives." In other words, doctors alone will decide when death is the solution.

Where's the choice in that?

In both countries, people are killed instead of receiving help to heal physically, mentally or emotionally. Death is the preferred option because they believe that all suffering is bad and death is a solution. This mindset leaves little room for individual choice.

Think this point of view doesn't exist in Canada? Think again.

My own brother, who is severely handicapped, was admitted to hospital for pneumonia. During the few hours of the day when family was not with him, a do not resuscitate bracelet was put on his arm without explanation. My mother found out about it by accident when she asked what the purple bracelet was for. I can imagine the assumption: he's so handicapped that we should let the pneumonia kill him.

That's why legal euthanasia is dangerous to the point of death for vulnerable people. Someone with the power to kill decides that their life is no longer worth living. That mentality should never be given the force of law.

Derek Miedema
Researcher at the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada
Ottawa Ontario