Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Belgians: Leading the World Toward Soylent Green?

Belgian doctors want the power to decide when their patients should die for the common good.

Rod Dreher of American Conservative reported that Dr. Jean-Marie Vincent, head of a national society of intensive care doctors, wants a license to kill, so to speak.  Doctors need the power, Vincent says, to kill off a patient whose "life quality has become too poor."

Vincent goes on to say that the first priority of doctors lies in restoring health, not prolonging life at all costs.  Even if the patient and the family does not consent, doctors must have the right to flip the switch of life and end it.

Dreher describes the doctor as "ghoulish," but an English writer of a century ago may have described him better.

Joseph Conrad described in his book The Secret Agent a character called "The Professor."  This man dreamt of a world "where the weak would be taken in hand for utter extermination . . . Exterminate! Exterminate!  That is the only way of progress . . . First the blind, then the deaf and dumb, then the halt and the lame - and so on."

Conrad's "Professor," an ardent terrorist, is an archetype not only for countless dystopian productions, such as "Soylent Green," but also speaks the underlying philosophy of some of the most horrible plans of science.  We remember the horror of the Nazis, not so much the eugenics movement of the pre World War II era.

Humanity has no capacity to rationally decide when another person has "quality of life" or not.  What term could be more subjective? Yet the term gets thrown out there almost casually no matter what the stakes.  Almost every person has the instinct and drive to continue life, even in a state that others may consider wretched.  When comfortable middle class doctors get the power to make such decisions, tragedy will result.

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