Euthanasia Not About Terminal Illness Despite Advocates’ Claims

Original Article Note: Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture. His current book is Consumer’s Guide to a Brave New World.

Here is proof positive that the international drive to legalize assisted suicide/euthanasia is not really about terminal illness. The World Federation of Right to Die Societies has reissued its “Manifesto.” Here it is in full. I will discuss the italicized portions of the Manifesto below:

The World Federation of Right to Die Societies (an international nongovernmental organization) is aware of the increasing concern to many individuals over their right to die with dignity.

Believing in the rights and freedom of all persons, we affirm this right to die with dignity, meaning in peace and without suffering. All competent adults—regardless of their nationalities, professions, religious beliefs, and ethical and political views—who are suffering unbearably from incurable illnesses should have the possibility of various choices at the end of their life.

Death is unavoidable. We strongly believe that the manner and time of dying should be left to the decision of the individual, assuming such demands do not result in harm to society other than the sadness associated with death.

The voluntarily expressed will of individuals, once they are fully informed of their diagnosis, prognosis and available means of relief, should be respected by all concerned as an expression of intrinsic human rights.

Notice that all competent adults with an “incurable” illness are supposed to have this right. That is not the same thing as a terminal illness. Arthritis is incurable. Asymptomatic HIV infection is incurable. So may be bi-polar disease.

Thus, the Manifesto is a call for establishing an almost open-ended right throughout the world for death on demand.

The legalization of assisted suicide/euthanasia would, by definition, harm society.

It corrupts the purposes of medicine, it discriminates against the vulnerable by permitting the facilitation of some suicides, while requiring the prevention of others, and it opens the door to the fall of a steep moral cliff as has occurred in the Netherlands where, after 30 years of euthanasia, the parliament will soon legalize eugenic infanticide.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.