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Saturday, August 15, 2009

One small step for euthanasia in Western Australia..

.. can be the start of a long trek downhill or off a cliff. A quadraplegic who laments "a living hell" of a life was allowed by the Supreme Court to starve himself to death. I have many objections about this, not least of which is that a judicial or legislative ruling can be easily seen -- or actively promoted -- as a moral statement. It also turns life on its head, with death per se becoming preferred over life, even an extremely difficult one. But this is not a case of a dying man refusing extraordinary care. Not that I have any idea how difficult his life is, but I can imagine how other quadraplegics might see themselves, or may be seen by others, in the light of this ruling. The cynical view of physical disability can be very catching, or can be actively promoted. After all, if there is nothing inherently wrong with suicide for a man who sees life as "a living hell", then there is nothing inherently wrong with terminating the life of anyone in that situation. It becomes, purely, a matter of choice. But the question of who makes such choices is very hard to pin down. How often are one's choices made for them by someone else? The state may take children away from their parents. The state may incarcerate those it considers too dangerous to society. Banks may repossess someone's assets. Family members may choose to pull the plug. Parents may choose to terminate their own child anytime during the pregnancy. If deliberately ending a life is no longer inherently wrong, then the safeguards against unjustly doing so are on wobbly foundations indeed.

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