Friday, November 27, 2009

Wait, Wait, Wait, "Euthanasia" is Not an Ideology.

From FamilyLifeNZ comes this rant of illogic:

Well, because our culture has fallen into a philosophical trap which completely confuses and rejects the great, and inalienable dignity and worth of the human person, and instead embraces the idea that your life only has worth if it meets a certain set of criteria – all of which are totally arbitrary.

So, according to this pernicious little ideology, if you’re seventeen and you’re relatively disease and disability free, then your life has great worth and it is too valuable for suicide.

But if you’re elderly, or disabled or sick, then your life all of a sudden has very little worth and suicide is the best thing you could do with your relatively valueless existence.

Sure, a sixty five year old person, or a person with a terminal illness is probably not going to live as long as a sixteen year old, and a disabled or elderly person can’t surf the break at Raglan, climb Mount Cook or compete in Dancing with the Stars, but so what?

Their life is no less valuable or less worthy of life than yours or mine, yet sadly, this is exactly the evil and false distinction that all pro-euthanasia ideologies proclaim.

Not only that, but at the heart of the pro-euthanasia ideology is a confused view of personal autonomy which believes that every human being should have the right to exercise total freedom and choice about how and when their life will come to an end.

Society has long deemed some members more worthy of protection than others. We're all aware of the "get the women and children out" approach to warfare and harms way. Of course, different values are placed on various societal constituents. But I would contend that women and children are also the last to be able to speak for themselves. In efforts to "protect" these segments of society (and the elderly and ill) we have assumed that "vulnerability" allows other bodies to speak for them, like government or the church or the medical profession.

What the writer is contesting is the lack of equal valuation of a 16 year old child - and I won't get into the cases she is referring to - and a 60 year old senior. She proposes that society is willing to speak for one and not the other. Yet, I contest that she is actually arguing for particular ideological groups to speak for the "vulnerable," and making the assumption that some are not able to speak for themselves. If compassion means paternalization, you can count me out.

And as for "euthanasia" being an ideology? Not a chance. The term is used by opponents of choice in death to conflate government-encouraged killing with patients' rights. Of course the former is sinister and the best way to silence the latter is to conflate the two. Those who fight for patients' rights don't care a fig about speaking for the discriminated segments of society, they want those who make up those segments to speak for themselves. That's not a system of philosophy which derives ideas exclusively from sensation; that's just human rights.

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