Spain: where the right to die trumps the right to justice

The capital of Catalonia, Barcelona, ​​applied for the Olympic Games in 1992. Thirty years later, Catalonia is bidding to become the world capital of euthanasia fundamentalism.

A recent case in a court in the city of Tarragona, about 100 kilometers south of Barcelona, ​​is prime evidence of the folly of a pro-euthanasia mentality.

In Catalonia, euthanasia is far from rare. Since euthanasia was legalized in Spain in June last year, 60 of the country’s 172 cases have taken place in this region, more than a third, despite Catalonia having just 16% of the population. total.

The man at the center of this controversy is Seaman Eugen Sabau. He wants to die. “I am a paraplegic. I have 45 stitches in my hand. I can’t move my left arm well. I have screws in my body and I can’t feel from the chest down,” he says. If anyone had the right to end their pain and die with dignity, it was Marin Eugen Sabau. Two doctors and two representatives of the regional government, a doctor and a lawyer, agreed. Mr. Sabau’s application was processed with unusual speed. A date has been set – July 28.

However, a judge recently issued a temporary stay and Sabau’s death has been delayed.

Why? Mr. Sabau’s case is exceptional, if not unprecedented, as he awaits trial for attempted murder and a host of other charges. If euthanized, he would never be tried for these crimes.

On December 14 last year, Mr Sabau, a 45-year-old Romanian security guard, donned an awkward woman’s wig, entered his workplace in Tarragona and shot dead three of his colleagues. Then he fled the scene and barricaded himself in an abandoned farmhouse. During a shootout with the police, two of them were injured. Eventually, snipers incapacitated Mr. Sabau, shooting him in the back, arm and leg. He became a paraplegic and had his leg amputated.

Not feeling too shredded after the sudden changes in his life, Mr. Sabau requested euthanasia. The police were horrified. Where was the justice for the victims? They opposed in a court of Tarragona. The judge, Sonia Zapater, supported Mr. Sabau.

Ms Zapater acknowledged that there was a “collision of fundamental rights”. But she ruled that Mr. Sabau’s right to an autonomous decision must prevail over the victims’ right to justice. Under the law, only minors and mentally ill patients who cannot give informed consent are not eligible for euthanasia. She dismissed the victims’ appeal.

This was euthanasia fundamentalism at its most fanatical. Only one thing mattered: autonomous will. The individual owes nothing to other human beings or to society. The only thing that matters is his pain; fuzzy notions like justice or responsibility have no meaning.

Fortunately for the victims, Ms. Zapater took his vacation, and another judge agreed to grant a reprieve. What happens next will be a test of Spain’s commitment to the rule of law – and common sense.

The fundamentalism of euthanasia in its most extreme form is at work in Catalonia. Mr. Sabau’s alleged right to a “death with dignity” has so far eclipsed any claims society has on him. He attempted to kill many of his fellow citizens, breaking the most basic norm of law in a civilized society – You won’t kill. Doesn’t society have the right to declare that its actions were destructive, dangerous and evil? Don’t his victims have the right to have their recognized pain?

No, not in Catalonia.

A local newspaper interviewed Maria Jimenezbioethicist at Rovira i Virgili University, in Tarragona, on the case. Yes, the judge was right, she said. Victims of the crime have no say in whether or not Mr Sabau “escapes justice”. His reasoning is worth noting:

“For me there is a fundamental issue, which is the management of emotions. On the one hand, there is the right of this person, but on the other, the right to repair the moral damage that other people have, emotionally, it weighs heavily, and society expects a protective response towards the victims. . This is a difficult problem to solve, because whatever decision is made, it will probably not satisfy both parties because these are two completely extreme points.

In his autonomous vision of law, justice – giving everyone his due – has disappeared. Only competing emotions remain. But it’s wrong. The law is not about rage and revenge but about restoring the moral balance that a criminal has upset. That’s why there was such an outcry when pedophile Jeffrey Epstein avoided trial by killing himself. As a lawyer for the victims said: “[They] deserved to see Epstein held accountable, and he owed everyone he hurt to accept responsibility for all the pain he caused. He talks about 2500 years of Western culture. The normalization of euthanasia threatens to undermine this.

Mr. Sabau intended to kill people and almost succeeded. He seriously injured several. Ideally, he should acknowledge his crime and reconcile with his victims and society. If he escapes his appointment with justice, euthanasia will not bring him death with dignity. Only a man who takes responsibility for his actions has true dignity.

About Norman Griggs

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