Sunday Meditation: The Children Whom Reason Scorns

I have chills from reading this! This post is one of the finest I have read on the topic. I agree that it's the "frog in the boiling water" syndrome. It's a sad phenomenon.

Posted by DeoDuce at December 12, 2004 1:58 PM

Very informative post; very informative blog

Posted by Chase at December 12, 2004 3:38 PM

First, do no harm.

Anyntime the state takes life and death into its hands it's a very grave proposition.

How can we morally justify the euthanasia of even dying infants. To do so argues that the quality or value of the infant's life is somehow superceded by his suffering.

Those are things that are simply unknowable.

Posted by Old Dad at December 12, 2004 4:38 PM

I am a personal opponent of euthanasia, in whatever form. But I do think that equating the Groningen Protocol to the Nazi eugenics euthanasia programme is not entirely fair.

From Dutch blog

"The main similarity is, that someone else decides wether a persons’ life is worth living any longer, and should be terminated.

The main difference however is that in Groningen, the decision is based on an assesment of the individuals’ life expectancy and if the individual should suffer any longer. In some twisted way, it can be percieved to be in the suffering individuals' best interests to die, especially if death is unavoidable within days or hours.

The Nazis on the other hand had no consideration for the individual, at all. They focused on society and a pure race; the individual was secondary to that. This is most definitely not the case in Groningen."

I can see why this argument may not hold water for everyone, but it's certainly a difference. The Nazis killed perfectly healthy children because they had Down's syndrome, and this is really not what Groningen proposes!

But I am afraid that we may end up there, some day - and that's why I'm still an opponent of the Groningen protocol. It's not the same as the Nazi eugenics program, but it may be the first step towards it.

Posted by G.J. Wolfswinkel at December 13, 2004 6:10 AM

I think you missed the good Doctor's point. He clearly stated that the Groningen protocols are not the equivalent of the Nazi evil. What he is providing is a caution that the ultimate Nazi evil started as something much more benign. The good Doctor also made the point that the Dutch situation is different than pre-war Germany. However, we cannot know where this breaching of the moral gates can/will lead. And that it will surely lead somewhere not good is the concern.

Posted by phil gilbert at December 13, 2004 11:18 AM

Hi Phil,

In that, we do agree: the Groningen protocol is a step near the edge of the abyss. It also scares the hell out of me. This society where I live in, what will it do to me when I grow old? What will it do to me if I slip into a coma, for some reason? The idea that it is no longer you who is in control of your ultimate destiny really is frightening.

I will read the doctors' post again, I may have missed something indeed. But all over the internet, there are these comparisons between nazis and the Groningen doctors, in which these doctors are depicted as killers equal to Mengele himself, and this is just not true. This post triggered a defensive reaction in me which may have been a response to those other posts, more than it was to this specific one. I'm sorry if I overreacted.

One other point. I'm asking myself, why am I being defensive? Well.. I'm soaked in this Dutch society, and despite my christian beliefs and convictions, I find it increasingly hard to stand up to things like this. After all, it's all so.. reasonable.

Why let a dying baby suffer a day longer? What good does it do? Isn't it more mercyful to let the kid slowly drift away on a cloud of morphine, instead of letting it live in agony for another day or week?

And yet while I'm typing it, I can't really believe I'm really saying it. I believe that all matters of life and death are, and should be, in Gods hand.

In the Lord of the Rings book The Return of the King, after the final great battles, the Fellowship travels back to Isengard to duke it out with the wicked sourcerer Saruman. Gandalf offers him a way out of the inevitable end, but Saruman rejects it. As Saruman speaks to the Fellowship, the sound of his voice is so convincing, so intense, so reaonable, so moving, that even battle hardened members of the fellowship are on the verge of accepting everything he says. And when Gandalf interrupts him, his voice sounds crass, shrill, unatracttive in comparison, and instinctively his words are rejected - even though he speaks the truth.

But finally the spell is broken and Sarumans voice looses it's power.

I'm sort of waiting for that moment, I guess.

Posted by G.J. Wolfswinkel at December 13, 2004 3:45 PM

In the "early" cases of euthaniasia it *is* reasonable. It could even be argued that in some extreme cases it's morally required or at least encouraged - much as we would make the argument when it is time to put down an animal in suffering.

Reason can tell us where to start, as in these cases. The problem is that it can't tell us where to stop. The problem is not Groningen, but what Groningen will inevitably lead to, in one way or another. But wait!, we exclaim, this time it will be different, this time we are surely wise, and good, and just enough to be able to make moral decisions in a reasonable way. This time our brakes will be strong enough to hold us on the slope, and we won't slide into the pit. This time.

Reason, and the mind, are wonderful tools, but I believe they are intended to be but servants to the spirit. When they become masters they are like machines without a governor, and will eventually spin themselves to destruction.

Posted by DSmith at December 14, 2004 4:41 AM

Wow! What a powerful essay. Right on target, too. Life -- all life -- is a gift from God and has its own intrinsic worth. The deliberate taking of a life, however well-intentioned, is the ultimate act of hubris.

Posted by Philomathean at December 14, 2004 8:47 AM

DSmith, that's it - exactly! Tnx!

Posted by G.J. Wolfswinkel at December 14, 2004 2:02 PM