Early advocates of euthanasia promoted advance directives as a benign tool to help patients’ direct healthcare decisions during end of life care. Since no document can cover every possible scenario, these documents have exposed and subjected patients to unintended withdrawal or denial of life-saving treatment. Life-affirming alternatives to advance directives are available.
Now, the slippery slope of euthanasia has reared its ugly head again, this time with a new and disturbing proposal.
It is a “high-tech” advance directive that would take euthanasia to an alarming level.
Euthanasia advocates have proposed a new way to end the lives of patients suffering from dementia. Their article entitled Ending One’s Life in Advance was published in the respected bioethics journal The Hastings Center Report.
They call it an “advance directive implant” (ADI) a programmable computer chip that would be implanted into a patient with early dementia. The ADI would be programmed to dispense lethal medication upon the detection of a predetermined advancement of the disease. When triggered, the implant would cause the immediate death of the patient. The authors say the device would “avoid burdening others with overwhelming care and morally painful choices.” Notice that the goal is relieving the “burden” on caregivers. The authors admit that the technology is not currently in place for such an implant, but they believe it is on the horizon.
A critical thinker might compile a lengthy mental list of potential abuses associated with an ADI. That list may include expanding the circumstances beyond dementia by which the implant would be deployed, like chronic non-terminal conditions such as lupus, depression or other mental health issues, asthma, or degenerative disc disease. Such a device could be weaponized through pressure, coercion, or without the knowledge or consent of the individual.
Killing anyone, regardless of their condition, under the guise of “mercy” is an insidious agenda that must be wholly and aggressively rooted out and defeated.
The authors acknowledge situations where the ADI could be abused, but totally miss the mark when they recommend Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide program as an example of a safe, patient-friendly environment for the ADI. The 1997 law allows physicians to prescribe lethal medication to qualifying patients.
One of the Oregon requirements is that the patient be “terminal.” According to its official 2020 report, patients who qualified as such last year included those with diabetes and arthritis, among several other debilitating but not terminal conditions.
The 2020 report revealed another troubling fact. Only one percent of patients who received the lethal meds were referred for psychiatric evaluation.
The Oregon model has no state oversight and relies on self-reporting by the doctors who are paid to help kill their patients. If one physician turns down a patient’s request for the lethal prescription, they can shop for another doctor who will accommodate them.
One would be hard pressed to find a country or state that has introduced a euthanasia program that didn’t quickly progress down the slippery slope by expanding the categories of people who qualify. Belgium has extended euthanasia to children under 12 and other nations are looking to follow.
Experience reliably shows that initial patient safeguards included in new euthanasia laws are there mainly to blunt opposition and little more.
An advance directive implant would be a dangerous and lethal tool in the hands of states and nations that have legalized forms of euthanasia. It would reach far beyond its stated circle of victims.
Those of us who have endured the long, cruel goodbye associated with dementia, understand clearly the sacrifice required by the surrounding family. Even so, loving and caring for them until the end is an honorable burden worth doing.
Protecting innocent human life,