How is it that a nation known for its politeness has become so committed to killing its most vulnerable citizens?
In a horrifying scene from “The Man in the High Castle,” Amazon Prime’s sci-fi dystopian series where the Nazis won World War II and control more than half of North America, the son of a high-ranking Nazi officials discovers he has an incurable genetic disorder. Committed to the party and the cause, he turns himself in to the party’s death doctors and saves the Reich from having to care for him.
His parents are devastated, but the public hails him as a hero. Sadly, the scenario is not as sci-fi as we might like to believe.
In 2016, Canada legalized “Medical Assistance in Dying also known as MAID. The terminology is, of course, a euphemism for euthanasia. To be eligible for MAID, persons must be at least 18-years-old and have a “grievous and irremediable” condition.
Like all such death-devoted legislation, terms like “grievous and irremediable” are moving targets. Descriptions used in the law include expressions like “serious and incurable,” “irreversible decline,” and suffering—both “physical and psychological”—that a person finds “intolerable.”
Of course, nearly all of these words are subjective: What’s “intolerable” to one person may not be to another. If Netherlands and Belgium are any indication, we can be sure that eligibility for MAID will, like gas, expand to fill whatever space is available.
Two recent stories illustrate why our fears are grounded in reality. The first story involves people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. As of now, MAID “is not available to children or people with mental illnesses” and clarifies that anyone seeking to die by doctor’s hands “must confirm their wish to proceed at the time of the assisted death.”
One Ontario man in the early stages of Alzheimer’s wants the law changed to permit an “advanced directive,” since he will be unable to comply with the law’s confirmation requirements later on.
The Alzheimer Society of Canada offered an obvious objection: “How will you protect [people with Alzheimer’s]? … to make sure that [they’re] not vulnerable to decision-makers?” After all, it’s possible that “someone could be transformed by dementia and become someone new—with a greater tolerance for incapacity and a different definition of a meaningful life.”
The man from Ontario replied, “I have dementia. I’m still a Canadian citizen. I have full rights. I want those rights.” And he’s willing to sue to “protect” those rights. Since the right to MAID is, in large measure, a creation of the Supreme Court of Canada, I wouldn’t bet against him.
The second story concerns an article in “The Journal of Medical Ethics,” written by three Canadian doctors, which makes the case for extending MAID to minors. Children.
As Wesley J. Smith notes in National Review, the goal of these doctors is to “normalize” euthanizing children and “reduce the stigma” by calling the killing “a procedure.” Accordingly, the authors emphasized the need to hide the identities of those killing children from the public. And, they argued against requiring parental permission—or even parental notification if it were against the child’s wishes.
This is right out of “The Man in the High Castle.”
As Smith asks, “Can you imagine visiting your sick child, only to learn that hospital doctors killed her because she asked to die and wanted you kept in the dark? The rage and agony would be unimaginable.”
The rage and agony might be unimaginable, but the scenario isn’t. It represents the logic and worldview that makes euthanasia possible: the belief that some lives are more worthy of life than others.
Once you accept that principle, people will eventually forget why they were originally repulsed by the idea of killing children and those with a disability. And when they arrive at the hospital only to find their loved one’s room empty, they’ll tell themselves, “Oh, well. He had his rights.”