My very first column warning against legalizing assisted suicide was published in Newsweek in 1993. It dealt with the suicide of my friend Frances under the influence of Hemlock Society (now Compassion and Choices) suicide-proselytizing literature.
I ran the logic of the agenda and warned that someday organ harvesting would be tossed into the deadly mix.
Of greater concern to me is the moral trickledown effect that could result should society ever come to agree with Frances. Life is action and reaction, the proverbial pebble thrown into the pond. We don’t get to the Brave New World in one giant leap. Rather, the descent to depravity is reached by small steps.
First, suicide is promoted as a virtue. Vulnerable people like Frances become early casualties. Then follows mercy killing of the terminally ill. From there, it’s a hop, skip and a jump to killing people who don’t have a good “quality” of life, perhaps with the prospect of organ harvesting thrown in as a plum to society.
“Alarmist!” my critics yelled. “Paranoid!” others said.
As the old saying goes, just because you are paranoid, that doesn’t mean they are not really after you.
Belgium already conjoins voluntary euthanasia of the mentally ill and disabled with organ harvesting. So does the Netherlands.
And now, Canada may be next as an advisory panel in Quebec has called for conjoining killing with organ donation. From the Bioedge story:
[Published] position statements from Transplant Quebec (no link available) and an ethics committee of the Quebec government [support organ donation after euthanasia]. The latter stated on May 11 that:
“Considering that a request for medical help in dying is a right, that organ donation is socially acceptable and it is an express request of the patient, and considering that the Commission [Commission de l’éthique en science et en technologie] has always praised organ donation in preceding position statements, the Commission recommends that all the institutions responsible set in place the necessary conditions for making these two requirements compatible.”
That an organ transplant organization apparently supports pursuing such a course is particularly alarming.
I can think of nothing more dangerous than convincing a suffering man or woman struggling to make it through the night that their deaths have greater value than their lives.
Oh, maybe one thing: Convincing society that their deaths do indeed have greater value than their lives.