Logic is a cold instrument that is frequently not compatible with life (or maybe I should say: Life isn’t always logical). Anyone who’s ever fallen in love will know as much – sometimes, we do things that don’t make sense even though we know they don’t make sense.
I like being logical, most of the time. But like anything else, logic can be taken to extremes. Like deciding, when young and reasonably healthy, that we wouldn’t want to live with illness or pain, therefore we should legalize euthanasia. Especially given how overstretched our medical system already is…
If, like me, you don’t like this sort of “logical” thinking, then you’ll appreciate this column.
We have up until recently assumed that we cannot control life’s end. When that was the case — just as when we used to think we could not control life’s beginning — caretaking for those at the heart of the drama was accepted as everyone’s responsibility. But now we would view late-life sufferers, as we used to consider unwed mothers, as having gotten themselves “in trouble” and in need of a termination to that trouble. Of course, as with abortion, the pregnant woman, or the sufferer pregnant, so to speak, with pain, can choose not to terminate. But then, if that’s your choice, the result of the choice (the baby, the suffering) is also your problem, isn’t it? Because in the case of the sufferer, if you haven’t made a deliberate decision to die, then continuing to live is not a given, something you needn’t concern yourself with; rather, continuing to live then also becomes a deliberate decision, one for which you, not your family and society, are responsible.
For a glimpse into a future in which euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal, read a short essay by Richard Stith, Her Choice, Her Problem: How Abortion Empowers Men in the August/September issue of First Things magazine. Stith, who teaches at Valparaiso School of Law in Indiana, makes the persuasive case that when having children became an elective rather than a natural consequence of sex, responsibility for children shifted wholly to women. Men instinctively understood that if conception could be undone, then so could their responsibility for being involved with the children women chose not to terminate.
Instead of empowering women, abortion has placed many women in a cleft stick. As Stith notes: “One investigator, Vincent M. Rue, reported in the Medical Science Monitor, that 64% of American women who abort feel pressed to do so by others. Another, Frederica Mathewes-Green in her book Real Choices, discovered that American women almost always abort to satisfy the desires of people who do not want to care for their children.” If you substitute the words “euthanize” for “abort” and “elderly” or “chronically ill” for “children,” the analogy with end-of-life termination could not be more clear.