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Normalizing Assisted Suicide Will Lead to a Duty to Die

Crossposted at Humanize

Euthanasia isn’t really about compassion but fear of decline and a loathing of dependency — and of those experiencing them.

That nasty truth has become abundantly clear with a new column published in the Times of London in which former Tory MP Matthew Parris argues that euthanasia/assisted suicide should not only be permitted — but encouraged. In “We Can’t Afford a Taboo on Assisted Dying,” he writes (my emphasis):

I can’t dispute the objectors’ belief that once assisted dying becomes normalized we will become more apt to ask yourselves for how much longer we can justify the struggle.

The word “justify” is telling. It does not only concern the suffering of the person who is ill, disabled, or elderly but the suffering that person is supposedly causing to family and society. Parris believes that, eventually, for such a person to continue to live will be considered unjustifiable:

Is life still giving us more pleasure than pain? How much is all this costing relatives and the health service? How much of a burden are we placing on those who love us? How much of a burden are we placing on ourselves? . . .

If assisted dying becomes common and widely accepted, hundreds of thousands — perhaps millions — will consider choosing this road when the time comes, and in some cases, even ask themselves whether it would be selfish not to. . . .

Within a decade or more [assisted suicide] will be seen as a normal road for many to take, and be considered socially responsible — and even, finally, urged upon people.

In other words, the creation of a “duty to die.” Come on, Granny! Time to swallow the pills. We need your money to send Junior to college.

Parris sees the future as a war between the old and sick and the young and healthy based on the cost of caring for people with dementia, disabilities, and serious illnesses:

This [resource] imbalance helps explain the government’s desperate reliance on immigration — to the rage of electorates who won’t face the fundamental question: how are our economies going to pay for the ruinously expensive overhang that dare not speak its name: old age and infirmity?

Does everyone who support euthanasia/assisted suicide desire this end? Of course not. But Parris’s logic is impeccable. Regardless of people’s intentions, these are exactly the consequences to which the right to die juggernaut will lead if general society buys his argument.

Parris’s piece clearly lays out the policy and moral issues that we should be debating, rather than the phony-baloney assertions that assisted suicide is only for the terminally ill for whom nothing else can be done to alleviate suffering. That is not true, and indeed, such proposals are merely stations on the way to creating a crassly abandoning society in which the weakest and most vulnerable among us become a killable caste.

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.