An overview: History has numerous instances of a progression following the departure from God-given rights and decrees to devastating unintended consequences. This has been termed the slippery slope. Over 40 years ago abortion on demand throughout a pregnancy became legal in America. At that time the term slippery slope was often used to indicate that this was just the beginning of a decline in respect for human life and that is just what is happening.
Fallout from Roe v Wade: Some feel that a disrespect for life started well before abortion was made legal, but in 1973 it all come to a head. To quote the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to
secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” After Roe these rights no longer covered all human life from conception to natural death. Many feel because abortion is legal it is moral and the right thing to do.
The Hippocratic Oath no longer is taken by most doctors. The Oath supported “do no harm” and wording which meant that abortion and assisted suicide were unacceptable.
Wesley J. Smith is one of the foremost writers on bioethical issues. He is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism and consults for the Patients Rights Council and the Center for Bioethics and Culture. He writes articles for the National Right to Life News and the Weekly Standard, among other publications. The following information is largely from his writings. As he warns, don’t be fooled by the words “death with dignity”, which really mean assisted suicide, and the group “Compassion and Choices” which originally was the “Hemlock Society”!
Mr. Smith asserts, “Assisted suicide advocates explicitly tie their death agenda to the abortion license, claiming that anyone who supports the right of ‘pregnancy termination’ should also support the right of the sick and disabled to self-terminate. The legal and philosophical grounds that justify abortion have also been invoked as reasons to permit infanticide-or ‘after birth abortion’-as one
bioethics article put it. This remains illegal in the U.S. –although the mercy killing of infants is common in the Netherlands where euthanasia is legal.”
The push for legalization of assisted suicide quickly followed Roe v. Wade. In 1997 the Supreme Court sent these type of decisions back to the states. Oregon, Washington, Vermont and contested decisions in Montana and New Mexico have made assisted suicide legal in these five states.
Other results of a disrespect of human life are:
1. In Oregon health care is rationed for Medicaid recipients but medication for assisted suicide is not on the rationing list. Will this become the preferred choice? Also the Governor of Oregon has stopped all death penalty executions by limiting the drug used but makes it available for assisted suicide cases. To quote Smith, “Now, it seems to me that if drugs are wrong to use in lawful executions, they are also wrong to prescribe to people who want to kill themselves. Death-causing is death-causing and that ain’t medicine.”
2. The Terri Schiavo case illustrated that a so-called “nonperson” could be legally euthanized. There is talk of using these people as a source for organs.
3. Suicide prevention has been eroded. It is now often accepted that being dead is better than having a serious illness, disability, being old and even being depressed. Smith warns us, “This is cause for great worry, for, once a society embraces doctor prescribed death as an acceptable answer to human suffering or as some kind of fundamental liberty right, there are no brakes. We need only look at European countries that have gone down the Euthanasia Highway to see how society is impacted deleteriously by accepting killing as
a suitable answer to the problem of human suffering.”
Netherlands: a law allowing babies to be euthanized.
Scotland: a bill for a “licensed suicide facilitator”.
Belgian: a law permits death on demand and the killing of children.
Switzerland: over 1700 have died in one suicide clinic. People from all over the world travel there for their suicide. It is now referred to as “suicide tourism”. These include the terminally ill, the disabled, elderly couples and even an Italian woman who didn’t like how she
looked at 75!
And even Quebec, Canada is close to legalizing euthanasia including forcing all doctors to participate in assisted suicide or being forced to refer to someone who would. Smith quips , “As in the Scottish proposal and the Belgian and Dutch laws, the definition [of a qualified patient] is broad enough to drive a hearse through.”
4. There is a push to have a cloned embryo of each patient as embryonic stem cells cause more problems with rejections than they help. But there are also many problems with the idea of using a clone to get a person’s own cells. Each human clone would need an
egg and it would take about 100 tries to make a viable cloned embryonic-stem-cell to use in “therapeutic cloning.” Getting eggs from women is costly and dangerous to the women. Also the problem of tumors is prevalent. The best answer is still to advance adult-stem-cell research where no human embryo cloned or not is needed or used.
5. Mr. Smith asks, “Will doctors and nurses be required to choose between remaining in their professions and being complicit with abortion and assisted suicide either by dong the deed or referring to a colleague they know is willing to end human life? Indeed I expect the fight over ‘medical conscience,’ as it is sometimes called, to become one of our most intense cultural and legal flash points in coming years.”
6. As life has cheapened, the terminal sedation of the elderly has expanded. Family members must be very deligent in selecting the health care for a loved one, especially hospice care as many are now “ for profit” and don’t adhere to the original standards of hospice.
7. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and “gestational carriers” (surrogates) will increase with older women wanting children as well as gay couples. A new film “Breeders: A Subclass of Women?” is available as well as the older film “Eggsploitation” by Center for Bioethics and
Culture. Both films expose important issues that we need to be aware of.
8. The definition of “brain dead” will become even more controversial. When is a person dead? When can organs be harvested? When should life support be disconnected? Don’t put a pink “dot” on your license!
9. “Designer babies” are becoming more common as couples want to decide what gender and what other characteristics they want in their child. PreImplantation Genetic Screening and Selection (PIGSS) is used to let a couple select which of the babies fulfill their goals. The others are discarded.
In conclusion Wesley Smith writes, “So let us not be unduly swayed by victories or defeats, name calling or praise, election or litigation outcomes. Instead, let us be thankful for the honor to have been called in such a time to stand peacefully in the breach defending the intrinsic dignity and equal value of all human life. Onward!”
To read additional articles by Smith go to: www.nationalreview.com/author/wesley-j-smith. He also has written several books. The newest is The War on Humans. About this E-book: “The environmental movement has helped produce significant improvements in the world around us–from cleaner air to the preservation of natural wonders such such as Yellowstone. But in recent years, environmental activists have arisen who regard humans as Public Enemy #1. In this provocative e-book, Wesley J. Smith exposes efforts by radical activists to reduce the human population by up to 90% and to grant legal rights to animals, plants and Mother Earth. Smith argues that the ultimate victims of this misanthropic crusade will be the poorest and most vulnerable among us, and he urges us to defend both human dignity and the natural environment before it is too late.”