In describing Jews’ various bizarre practices—most of which he appears contemptuous of—the Roman historian Tacitus notes their refusal to kill unhealthy babies. More recently, the Netherlands, known for the extreme latitude of its euthanasia laws, is considering lowering the minimum age at which patients may be killed by their physicians from twelve to one. Wesley Smith comments:
The Netherlands won’t be the first country to permit child euthanasia. Belgium removed all age restrictions a few years ago. We know, based on government reports, that children as young as nine have been killed by doctors. One assumes their parents gave the go-ahead.
Pediatric euthanasia may soon come to this side of the Atlantic. Canada permits lethal-injection euthanasia for adults. . . . As the country is preparing to expand its eligibility criteria, some hope that will include children—perhaps without parental consent.
Indeed, Smith notes, some Canadian doctors have already made the case in an academic journal for “confidentiality” in the matter of infanticide. That is, if a child asks his physicians to kill him without telling his parents, they would be under no obligation to do so.
So what is the bottom line? Once a society embraces killing as an acceptable answer to human suffering and redefines assisted suicide as a “medical treatment,” the culture’s entire mindset shifts. Helping suffering people live ceases to be the overriding objective: these patients are rarely offered suicide prevention. Instead, death becomes the imperative, and not just for adults but eventually for sick and disabled children too—perhaps with organ donation thrown in as a plum to society.
It’s all so disheartening. As the Canadian journalist Andrew Coyne once wrote about the growing popularity of euthanasia: “A society that believes in nothing can offer no argument even against death. A culture that has lost its faith in life cannot comprehend why it should be endured.” When the euthanasia death angel comes for children, who can say he is wrong?