Bioethicist Wesley Smith posted the article in italics below on the website of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network (http://www.cbc-network.org/2013/01/bioethicist-lets-find-a-way-to-kill-alzheimers-patients/). It is a critique of an article in the Hastings Center Report that advocates euthanasia for people with Alzheimer’s.
We know that a woman with Alzheimer’s was euthanized in 2011 in the Netherlands. She had requested euthanasia while competent but definitely was not competent at the time of her death (http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/11/09/first-euthanasia-in-netherlands-of-severe-alzheimers-patient/).
Smith is rightly very troubled by the Hastings Center article’s advocacy for euthanasia of Alzheimer’s patients for cost-cutting purposes.
Never kid yourself that the competency requirement in assisted suicide laws will hold. As we wrote yesterday, in Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, there has already been a newspaper piece advocating extending it to the euthanasia of non-competent people (http://www.theolympian.com/2011/11/16/1878667/perhaps-its-time-to-expand-washingtons.html).
We hope to read the original article and summarize it within the next few days.
Bioethicist: Let’s Find a Way to Kill Alzheimer’s Patients!
by Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC
Don’t anyone tell me that the mercy killing imperative and cost containment aren’t mixed — driven by a pernicious “quality of life” ethic that denigrates and demeans the moral value of the most weak and vulnerable among us.
The Hastings Center Report — the world’s most influential bioethics journal — has a piece pushing euthanasia for Alzheimer’s patients. As I have reported, Dutch doctors now are allowed to kill Alzheimer’s patients, a matter cheered on by Erik Parens, a senior researcher at the Hastings Center. From, “Alzheimer’s Disease and Personhood:”
The guidelines have always been a farce, broken often without significant legal or professional consequence — including infanticide, non voluntary euthanasia, and the killing of the mentally ill and grieving. And note the bottom line: Alzheimer’s patients should be allowed to be euthanized.
But how to get there ethically? Parens finds it odd that we try to apply concepts of consent to kill people no longer capable of consenting, and indeed, who may not be actually suffering. But, Parens concludes, we still have to find a way to justify their killings!
Those two final sentences tell us what so much about the nature of the bioethics movement. The point isn’t to apply principles to determine the propriety or impropriety of a proposed policy. Rather, the outcome is predetermined and the goal is to find the best way to justify doing what we already want to do. Or to put it another way, to find the best philosophical means to support the predetermined ends. Reminds me of the Warren Commission Report.