Killing Us Softly
by Kelleigh Nelson
March 15, 2013
Euthanasia is a long, smooth-sounding word, and it conceals its danger as long, smooth words do, but the danger is there, nevertheless. ~ Pearl S. Buck
Condemned German: “But we didn’t think it would go that far.”
American judge: “It went that far the very first time you condemned an innocent human being.”
~ Conversation in the American motion picture Judgment at Nuremburg.
“From the Soviet gulag to the Nazi concentration camps and the killing fields of Cambodia, history teaches that granting the state legal authority to kill innocent individuals has dreadful consequences.” ~ Pete Du Pont, former Delaware governor
My dear mother died on July 19, 1994. She had Alzheimer’s, but her death was hurried along because she was deprived of food and water. My baby sister had medical power of attorney and was convinced by the nursing home physicians that mother would feel no pain. When I found out, I called the nursing home in Illinois and spoke to the medical director. I told him I did not want my mother starved and dehydrated to death. He told me she wouldn’t feel anything. He never said she was receiving any pain medication. I responded that there wasn’t much difference between what he was doing to my mother and what was done by the Nazis to concentration camp prisoners. He answered that my mother could feel nothing because she didn’t have her brain function any longer. Of course, being starved and dehydrated doesn’t help with brain function of prisoners either. I hung up and wept bitter tears. Momma died three days later. I later found out that what was done to my mother had been common practice for several decades. My mother did not deserve this end. Hydration would have kept her body comfortable until God took her home.
This is called “Passive Euthanasia.” Euthanasia is Greek for “good death,” but there is nothing good about dying from a lack of hydration. Passive Euthanasia is all too common in America today. It is hastening the death of a person by altering some form of support and letting nature take its course. Examples include such things as turning off respirators, halting medications, discontinuing food and water thus allowing a person to dehydrate or starve to death, or failure to resuscitate.
Passive euthanasia also includes giving a patient large doses of morphine to control pain, in spite of the likelihood that the painkiller will suppress respiration and cause death earlier than it otherwise would have happened. Such doses of painkillers have a dual effect of relieving pain and hastening death. Administering such medication is regarded as ethical in most political jurisdictions and by most medical societies, including the special “cocktail” given by Hospice employees.
These procedures are performed on terminally ill, suffering persons so that natural death will occur sooner. They are also commonly performed on persons in a persistent vegetative state; for example, individuals with massive brain damage or in a coma from which they likely will not regain consciousness.
The slippery slope of murdering the vegetative or terminally ill started in l935 in Britain, in l938 in the US, and in l980 in Canada. The British and American groups were very small and insignificant for the next two decades. It became bigger and more vocal after the hugely-publicized Karen Ann Quinlan “right-to-die” case in New Jersey in l976, which revealed to the public the extent of modern medical technology to extend life indefinitely in a persistent vegetative state.