Human Exceptionalism

Czech Euthanasia Proposal

I visited Prague last year and found the Czech Republic to be a vibrant and beautiful place. (Photo by WJS.) Alas, it seems to be slouching toward accepting euthanasia, and indeed, a legalization proposal is now being promoted in the country. From the story:

According to the proposed legislation, “A dignified death can only be had on the basis of a request for help or can be chosen by a patient only in a situation when his health condition is hopeless and when he is in a condition of permanent physical or psychological pain, which is the result of contingent or long-term and incurable illness.”

Yada, yada, yada. We have seen repeatedly how such “guidelines” don’t hold, but are merely meant to give the illusion of control. Moreover, an “incurable” condition can be almost anything and everything that is not a transitory condition. Arthritis can be “long term” and “incurable.” So can diabetes, spinal cord injury, asymptomatic AIDS that terrifies the patient about the future, etc.

The deal is not done, of course:

Human Rights Minister Džamila Stehlíková (SZ) has also come out against the proposed legislation.

“The only acceptable solution to the position of the severely ill and dying is not the choice between suffering and death at the hands of a doctor, but a lessening of suffering and the provision of a helping hand. The dying and severely ill need quality, accessible care and not legalized euthanasia, which contradicts the spirit of a doctor’s profession,” said Stehlíková.

According to Domšová, there wouldn’t be any need to legalize euthanasia if there was an acceptable level of care for long-term and terminally ill patients and the dying.

I agree with that, but it misses an important point. The euthanasia movement is international and is not really about helping those for whom nothing can be done to alleviate end-of-life suffering. It is an ideological quest at its heart, extolling radical individualism over what may be best for society as a whole. But that wouldn’t sell to a wary public, and so the emphasis on terminal illness and suffering that cannot be relieved.

Let us hope that the Czech Republic does not hearken to the Siren Song of “death with dignity.”