Will the U.S. accept Euthanasia?

Euthanasia is intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral. It is not justified by a good intention or purpose, not even by the medical purpose of relieving severe suffering. It is not justified by a dire circumstance, not even that a person is terminally ill and in severe pain. Euthanasia is a form of murder, and murder is the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being.

The nation with the most extensive acceptance and legal use of euthanasia is the Netherlands. In 2015, they euthanized 5,561 persons out of a population of 16.94 million. That’s a rate of 0.000328 (or 0.0328%). It’s a small percentage, but a large number.

If euthanasia ever becomes as accepted in the U.S. as it is in the Netherlands, that percentage of our population would imply 106,928 deaths per year, making it 6th leading cause of death overall (not counting abortion).

The arguments used to justify euthanasia and to widen its legality proceed along much the same course as the arguments for legalized abortion. They start with the most severe cases. The propose the case of a conception by rape or incest, when the prenatal has a severe disability. They propose the case where direct abortion will save the life of the mother. Then once they obtain legalization of some abortion, they push the door open wider. Abortion becomes legal in more and more cases, until it is proclaimed to be a right and is available on demand.

The same process will likely happen with euthanasia. They will obtain its legalization in very limited cases, as when the person is terminally ill and near death. Then they will widen the types of cases where euthanasia is permitted. In the end, they will proclaim the supposed right to die, and obtain the legalization of euthanasia for a wide range of reasons.

In California, a devout Roman Catholic woman was struggling with cancer, and needed a different type of chemotherapy. But then the State approved physician-assisted suicide. She was denied coverage for the cancer treatment medications, but offered coverage for a suicide pill: Terminally ill mom denied treatment coverage, but gets suicide drug approved

“Then her doctors suggested that switching to another chemotherapy drug might buy her time. Her medical insurance company refused to pay. She says she asked if the company covered the cost of drugs to put her to death. She was told the answer is yes — with a co-payment of $1.20.”

Euthanasia is inexpensive. Treating the elderly and the dying is costly. So there is an inevitable push from sinful secular society toward euthanasia. It is portrayed as compassion, but it is a way to get rid of people who seem like a burden on society, financially or otherwise. And once it becomes legal, the expansion of cases where euthanasia is deemed appropriate never stops.

A 24 year old woman in Belgium obtain permission for physician assisted suicide. She was not terminally ill, just suffering from depression. The Netherlands is considering a change to their laws to allow euthanasia in cases where the person is simply elderly, not ill at all. But they also currently allow euthanasia for children as young as 12, with their parents’ consent. “Euthanasia now accounts for 4% of total deaths in the Netherlands….” [Wikipedia]

The teaching of the Roman Catholic Church is clear and definitive. Euthanasia is intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral. Neither a good purpose, nor a dire circumstance can ever justify an intrinsically evil act. But secular society (and many Catholics, too, unfortunately) does not accept the idea that some acts are immoral, regardless of intention or circumstances.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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