I can see it now. Aunt Jane and Uncle Joe are in their twilight years and finally are able to take that trip around the world they’ve been anticipating for so long.
They’ve taken care of the details of their personal affairs, have visited with their children and grandchildren and everything is in order. More importantly, they have tickets and passports in hand, suitcases packed and enthusiasm barely in check. They’re all set for the time of their lives on the trip of a lifetime!
Oh, yes, there is just a little catch in all of this. Jane and Joe are not in perfect health. After all, what would you expect; she’s 74, and he’s 80. A touch of arthritis and a bit of high blood pressure and successful (thus far) battles with (and treatment of) skin cancers and prostate problems. Overall, nothing earth shattering as today’s medicine goes.
So, bon voyage! And they’re off. A long cruise across the Atlantic followed by planes and trains and cars and barges and busses and even for a while, some hiking and biking. It’s a dream vacation that meets the dreams of their lifetimes and takes them leisurely around the globe. But the end of the journey is not at all what everyone expected, for Jane and Joe had some additional plans — plans they kept to themselves until it was all over.
All over? Yes, indeed. All over. The fun. The travel. The trip. Their lives.
You see, Jane and Joe had made up their minds that they wanted to go out in style. In the jargon of the day, they wanted to end their lives with dignity. In other words, they didn’t want to wait until their time had come. They wanted to call the shots: when and where and how.
In truth, they wanted to end their lives on their terms but didn’t want it to be too painful or messy. Actually, they didn’t even want to do it themselves. It would be so much easier to have someone else do it for them. Just so it was quick, easy, painless, neat and timely.
They wanted what is euphemistically called “assisted suicide.”
It used to be called “mercy killing,” but gosh, it’s hard to get society to accept that “killing” an old person or a sick person is OK. All that stuff about religion, morality and the law just gets in the way. So we called it euthanasia, one of those big words that to the uninformed or just plain stupid make something distasteful, immoral or illegal sound acceptable.
Then along came “assisted suicide,” the phrase that fits the boomers’ demand for the right to anything they want. “It’s my right to commit suicide;” it’s a “personal choice;” it’s the “ultimate control over my own body.” Funny, isn’t it, that people who are demanding all these rights are also demanding that someone else do the actual deed.
Even good old Dr. Kevorkian danced that one on the head of a pin to try to accommodate the laws dealing with murder. As the “suicider,” he just provided the mechanism; the “suicidee” pushed the button or pulled the lever or worked whatever mechanism that did the killing. Sounds like an accomplice to murder to me, but then what do I know? I still subscribe to the old exhortation, “Thou shalt not kill.”
So how did Jane and Joe end their trip?
Well, at this point in time, they would have two lovely choices for location. If they preferred the waters off Australia, they could board the death-ship run by Dr. Philip Nitschke. He just announced plans to launch a Dutch-registered ship to sail international waters off Darwin. His ship will have only boarding passengers, of course; no one will be alive to disembark. No doubt, burials at sea will suffice. The sharks will love it. (Talk about chum!)
If Jane and Joe prefer a land-leaving, they can go to the Netherlands. All they’ll need is a doctor to vouch for their being at the end of their worthwhile life and, voila, they’ll be offed. Mercifully, of course.
The tiny country that once was a world power now makes its mark in history with sex, drugs and death. The first two are already legal, and now so is death. The law just last week legalizes killing people who want to die or those who are in a condition that someone else thinks means that their time has come.
The law does have all the “protections” — the victim is supposed to be suffering unbearably, voluntarily request the killing, know other options and get a second opinion. Despite the fact of this momentous vote of the Dutch legislature to legitimize the right of a terminally ill patient to suicide — it’s been going on there for years. With all the existing protections, it’s a reported fact that hundreds of people — babies to elderly — are killed every year by Dutch doctors who decide on their own that their patients would be better off dead. They are left to die or are directly killed. With mercy, of course.
The only thing the new law does is protect the doctor from prosecution. If you doubt people will be able to find doctors willing to kill, think about it. If there’s no punishment for the doctor, what would stop one from lying? It’s being done now.
And by the way, lest you get too smug, doctors in this country are killing patients too — their own form of secret mercy killing under the guise of medicine. As one doctor told me, it’s called “benign neglect.” Just don’t treat and lookee there — the patient dies!
Interesting, isn’t it? The Dutch law allows an act that societies and religions across history have held is the ultimate immorality and then has to provide legal protection for a professional who commits the crime. Whatever happened to the medical oath of “first, doing no harm”?
I guess it depends on what your definition of harm is.