Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The grand plan

The Catholic Church in Canada is weighing in on the issue of euthanasia.  A bishop has issued a statement condemning it and it played to a large number of Catholic churches this week, talking about how Catholics who ask for assisted dying or whose families support it risk the church refusing to perform last rites or funerals.

Personally I would consider the church butting out of services for the dead and dying a big bonus, but I do have real issues with the opposition to assisted dying.

The most common reason I have seen trotted out to support the anti-euthanasia movement is that it is against God's will.  It is a standard variant on the idea that you shouldn't do anything to thwart the divine plan, but this argument is complete hypocritical crap.  The church doesn't mind you going to the doctor for treatment... isn't that against God's plan?  They don't mind you exercising to try to get healthy, but wouldn't do so compromise God's plan for you to die of heart disease at a younger age?  Fundamentally it is absurd that people can apparently defy the plan of a omnipotent diety, but it only counts as defiance when a follower of said deity is personally uncomfortable with the defiance in question.

That is all to ignore the ridiculous idea that laws should be there to enforce God's plan for people.  God itself isn't up to the task, and it needs police officers to provide proper incentive?

The rest of the arguments against assisted dying are almost entirely based on misinformation.  People often assume that a middle aged person can just walk into a doctor's office and sign up to have their parents summarily executed because they have become inconvenient.  However, when you look at how assisted dying has been implemented in other countries or actual proposals for Canada you find that the barriers to taking part are enormous.  It takes a serious commitment on the part of the person wanting to die, examinations and testimony of a variety of health care professionals following strict rules, and lots of time.  There are in fact so many layers of red tape in both current practice and proposed practice of euthanasia that it is far too hard to access, to my mind, rather than too easy.

No, doctors are not going to let children whack their parents for their inheritance.

No, healthy people who want to commit suicide will not be helped by this system.

No, children born with developmental disabilities will not be euthanized.

No, doctors who do not wish to participate in euthanasia will not be forced to do so.

All of these are worthy considerations, of course, because if some idiot wrote up rules for euthanasia in fifteen minutes they might not think of these cases.  But that isn't what is happening.  The process has crowds of experts from many fields (including, of course, people who are looking at undergoing assisted death themselves) and has examined successful systems elsewhere as well as looking at creative ideas at home.  Huge amounts of time and effort has been poured in to ensure that the system is not abused.

We normally think that keeping an animal alive in constant agony is immoral.  Euthanasia for animals who have nothing left in life but deep suffering is normal and expected.  We owe the same consideration to those among us who are suffering so much that joy is gone from their lives, and who will die before that situation can change.

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