Euthanasia, Letting Die, and Pain Relief

By April 14, 2015 Recent News

CultureWatch 14 April 2015
The case against legalised euthanasia needs to be spelled out in detail. This is especially urgent since there seems to be so much moral and intellectual fuzziness concerning this debate. At the moment I am working on a book on this topic in which I offer ten major reasons why no civilized society should move in the direction of legalised euthanasia.
There I will spell out in great detail why the pro-death lobby must be resisted fiercely. But as in all these complex social and moral debates, it is imperative that we get clarity on just what it is we are discussing. Care must be taken in the way we define our terms.
This is obviously vital because so much misleading language is being used in this debate, and so many euphemisms are being tossed around. Indeed, emotive imagery and deceptive language are clouding what this issue is really all about. So let me offer some thoughts on just what this debate is about, and what it is not about.
Concerning euphemisms, J. Daryl Charles says this: “Euthanasia today depends on euphemisms. Orwellianisms such as ‘exit preference’, ‘death with dignity’, and a ‘right to die’ are absolutely critical to its cultural legitimation. Empowered by sentiment, euthanasia rhetoric is dependent on images and symbols.”
For the purposes of this article, euthanasia is simply about one thing. It is not about halting futile treatment. Nor is it about the alleviation of suffering (this is known as palliative care). Euthanasia is an act that directly and intentionally causes a person’s death.
As bioethicist Mark Blocher explains, “Euthanasia is an act that involves an intention to produce death. . . . An essential component of euthanasia is the intention behind either an action or a refusal to act to knowingly bring about a person’s death.”
Norman Geisler and Frank Turek put it this way: “We will use the term ‘euthanasia’ to mean an act that intentionally and directly causes a patient’s death.” Thus there is a “crucial difference between taking a life intentionally and allowing a death naturally. The first is homicide, and the second is a natural death”.
The important point is this: there is a huge difference between letting nature take its course and actively hastening or inducing a patient’s death. That is, there is a very important distinction we must make between letting die and killing. Because this is such a critical issue, and one which is so often confused (often deliberately by the pro-euthanasia camp), it is worth spending a bit of time on this, quoting a number of authorities.