With the introduction of legalized abortion in 1973 came an unprecedented disrespect for unborn human life. Pro-Life advocates soon warned that this mentality would inevitably lead to a societal ethic under which other helpless groups of citizens were denied life based on arbitrary empirical “quality of life” considerations. Pro-Lifers predicted then that one of the consequences of the newly legalized culture of death was sure to be euthanasia; regrettably, that prediction has materialized.
In the Netherlands , euthanasia is now legal and rampant: Citizens must carry special cards if they do not wish to be euthanized. Thankfully, the US has thwarted similar disregard for human life by defeating assisted-suicide initiatives in the states of Washington (1991), California (1992), Michigan (1998), and Maine (2000). However, this atrocity is spreading closer to home and is practiced in Oregon , where physician-assisted suicide was legalized in 1997.
The number of victims in Oregon is rising as patients are being killed instead of nurtured back to health. According to a 2001 report by the Oregon Health Division, assisted-suicide increased by 68% from 1998 to 1999. Many doctors, having taken an oath to protect life and to do no harm, will not participate in the denial and withdrawal of treatment as evidenced by a report noting that between the years 1998 and 2000, 59% of those who sought euthanasia committed suicide after being turned down by at least one doctor.
Patients considering assisted-suicide are often grappling with fear of future disability. Disability rights activists frequently point out that non-disabled people often have a distorted and negative view of the quality of life of a disabled person. In Assisted Suicide: A Disability Perspective, the National Council on Disability is acutely aware of the danger:
The dangers of permitting assisted suicide are immense. The pressures upon people with disabilities to choose to end their lives…are already prevalent…People with disabilities are among society's most likely candidates for ending their lives, as society has frequently made it clear that it believes they would be better off dead…Persons with disabilities who are poor or members of racial minorities would likely be in the most jeopardy.
In addition to the fear of future disability, many terminally ill or permanently or severely disabled people become concerned about burdening their families and friends. Organizations like the Hemlock Society, run by Derek Humphrey, only propagate this mentality. In Humphrey's book, Final Exit, he suggests that money spent on those who are ill or disabled “might be better spent” on other things. Humphrey's mindset promotes a “right to die” as a “duty to die.” Proponents of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide tell those who are older, ill, or have disabilities that their lives are no longer worth living. They try to convince these already vulnerable people that by choosing the “solution” of suicide, they can save themselves and their family needless medical expense, suffering and pain. Under the guise of compassion, these pro-death advocates manipulate the emotional struggle of the patients and their families by convincing them that comfort for the ill or dying cannot be provided, pain control is always inadequate, and life will be prolonged indefinitely by the use of life-support systems. They promote the belief that life with a physical or mental disability is unbearable and euthanasia is needed to protect an individual's right to a “humane” and “dignified” death.
Clearly, we have now entered those times predicted immediately after the infamous Roe v. Wade decision. No longer can euthanasia be considered a peril lurking somewhere on the distant horizon: Each and every person is at risk. Abortion has led us to euthanasia. This is the inevitable consequence of that first deliberate decision to exempt one group of persons from the Right to Life.