Once murder is defined as an acceptable response to suffering, there are few natural stopping points in the continued expansion of legalized euthanasia or assisted suicide. Requiring a diagnosed medical condition still carries some weight. But that doesn’t make sense, since the ultimate question is Pain, not its causes.
Nowadays, even that line is becoming increasingly blurred – especially in countries that have completely swallowed hemlock euthanasia – which is why a new study published in Population health is a cause of alarm. It seems like an early bet to remove the medical requirement completely from Dutch law.
The study reveals that some Dutch people commit suicide “in the absence of a medical problem”. Obviously. But if euthanasia is only a medical “treatment”, wouldn’t this discovery call for increased prevention efforts in such cases?
Ah, but that’s not how this problem works. Once for a penny, for a pound, because euthanasia changes mentalities think of death as positive when it is wanted (and even if it is not in some cases). The sheer force of gravity unleashed by such laws logically pushes society toward accepting a process of continued widening access to death for almost all non-transitory reasons. In other words, suicide becomes a matter of freedom.
This shift in mindset is evident in the discussion of the study. Note how the study authors conclude their conclusions (emphasis mine):
The estimate of the frequency of suicides or intentional suicides is influenced by definitions and sources of information. Few of the people who intentionally ended their lives asked for a PAD [physician assisted death], especially those with only psychiatric illnesses and those without medical condition. Possible explanations may be the desire to take responsibility for themselves, a disturbed relationship with one’s own doctor, fear of pre-trial detention, or an awareness of patients about the (un) conceivability of doctors to access medical services. PA requests under Dutch PA law in certain situations.
PAD in the Netherlands is rooted in the medical field as currently understood in Dutch law. This raises the question of how to respond to the desire to die of people whose desire to intentionally end their own lives is not rooted in a medical condition. and therefore fall outside the medical framework of assisted dying.
“How to respond to the desire to die” – posed as a question – seems to be an invitation to the authorities to start thinking about removing the requirement of a medical condition as a prerequisite for euthanasia.
Germany is already there, by the way. A few years ago, the country’s highest court invoked a fundamental constitutional right to suicide – and to give or receive assistance in that regard – regardless of illness, or in fact, for any reason. The court ruled (again, I insist):
The right to a self-determined death not limited to situations defined by external causes as serious or incurable illnesses, nor does it apply to certain stages of life or illness. On the contrary, this right is guaranteed at all stages of a person’s existence. . . .
The individual’s decision to end his life, based on how they personally define quality of life and a meaningful existence, escapes assessment on the basis of general values, religious dogmas, societal norms for dealing with life and death, or consideration of objective rationality. It is therefore not up to the individual to explain or further justify his decision; on the contrary, their decision must, in principle, be respected by the state and society as an act of self-determination.
In other words: death on demand.
The Dutch are moving there too, as are other Western societies – including ours – just some faster and others slower. We are all sinking into the quick sands of nihilism. Unless we change our collective mindset, it’s just a matter of “when”.