Comment Of The Day: “The Euthanasia Slippery Slope: A Case Study”

 Ethics Alarms master commenter Mrs. Q has the highest ratio of Comments of the Day to comments of any of the erudite participants here. If she would consider it, I’d love to feature her ethical musings in a regular column on the blog. This is the first of two Mrs. Q compositions you will see this weekend; it concerns the issues of euthanasia and consent, which were explored in twoposts this week, and a poll. Regarding that: here is the still live survey regarding the hypothetical I posed in this follow-up to the one about the Dutch doctor:

As you can see, those supporting the opposite position of Mrs. Q (and me) are in a distinct minority.

Here is Mrs. Q’s Comment of the Day, a reply to another commenter,  on the post, “The Euthanasia Slippery Slope: A Case Study.”

My God fearing Catholic grandma had the opposite response to yours. She was 102 & 7mo. and after breaking her hip it was too late to even think of surgery. She continued to weaken & lose weight yet she fought by drinking milkshakes & trying to greet her many family/visitors.

Before she got to this point a few years prior, her care coordinator somehow changed her directive to DNR, which as a Catholic she wouldn’t have agreed to, yet this person tried to convince the family that my grandma said yes to the change. If my family hadn’t checked the paperwork, my grandma’s incorrect and unauthorized change would have remained; however our family changed it back. My understanding is such acts are not uncommon in these facilities.

Fast forward to her last days. She was increasingly given higher doses of morphine & we weren’t allowed to even give her sips of water, though she was clearly thirsty. Her last words ever spoken while she gripped onto me, and heard by everyone in the room were “I don’t want to die.” She didn’t want to go and the nursing home was killing her and she knew it.

I still feel complicit in her death, as I tried to “go along” with staff who I assumed knew best. Continue reading

Addendum: To “The Euthanasia Slippery Slope: A Case Study,” Hypothetical And Poll

The Euthanasia Slippery Slope: A Case Study, this morning’s post, has attracted a wider range of opinion than I expected. I considered attaching a poll to the original post; now I’m going to go a step farther, and base that poll on a hypothetical of the kind that I use in my legal ethics seminars.

Speaking of those, on Tuesday, September 17, in Richmond, VA, and Wednesday, September 18, in Fairfax, VA, I’ll be presenting  “The Greatest Legal Ethics Seminar Ever Taught!” for three hours of legal ethics CLE credit to Virginia lawyers and others. The title reflects, other than my own warped sense of humor (“The Greatest Story Ever Told” is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen), the fact that the legal ethics hypotheticals being discussed cover what I have found to be many of the most contentious, fascinating legal ethics issues extant over 20 years of doing these things. Moreover, I am being joined by my friend and colleague, John May, who approached these issues from the perspective of a practical litigator as well as one who often defends lawyers accused of ethical improprieties. He’s also one combative and clever pain in the ass who loves disagreeing with me, so I recommend bringing popcorn. The details are here.

Now here’s your hypothetical:

Continue reading

The Euthanasia Slippery Slope: A Case Study

Dr. Kevorkian was happy to help you kill yourself…

As health care costs rise and the public as a whole becomes more financially responsible for the care of individuals; as the population ages and the massive increase in health care costs in the final years and months of life becomes an increasing burden on society, and as legal abortion stays front and center as the most brutal form of utilitarianism, where a weaker and “lesser” life is deemed expendable for the well-being of others, I expect the United States culture to be drawn closer and closer to the seductive policy of legal euthanasia.  It is now legal in Washington, D.C.,  California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, Maine (as of next year), New Jersey, Hawaii, and Washington. You may note what these states all have in common….not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I believe that permitting an individual to kill another with the victim’s consent is so ripe for abuse—Dr. Kevorkian comes to mind—that it crosses an ethical line that should be thick, black, and forbidding.  The alleged consent can too easily be coerced or manufactured for the convenience of others. A recent case in the Netherlands confirms my strong reservations.

The unidentified patient, 74, had asked in writing for doctors to end her life if she had to be admitted to a nursing home, and if she thought the time was right. When she entered a home in 2016, however, though incapacitated, she appeared to have changed her mind, and gave what prosecutors called “mixed signals” about her desire to die. Continue reading

Poll: The Racist Comment

Ethics Alarms received another one of its periodic racist comments today. As with most of them, it was generated by this post, about the racist site Chimpmania.

Unlike most of the comments I get of this ilk, this one is reasonably well-written: the writer probably has most of his teeth and would beat the kid who plays the banjo in “Deliverance” handily in Scrabble.

I routinely spam these kinds of comments, even the articulate ones. For a while I would allow the first one in, with a warning, but for more than a year I’ve just refused to publish them. Is that both ethical and wise, though? I am liking all forms of viewpoint censorship less and less of late, especially since Ethics Alarms is a victim of it. If there are substantial numbers of people who think like this bigot, shouldn’t the rest of us know about it, and learn what we can about their reasoning and motivation?

The contrary view is that this comment and the others like it are res ipsa loquitur, inarguable examples of uncivilized discourse that society reasonable and legitimately refuses to tolerate for its own safety The problem with this construct is that there are no clear standards to block the slide on the slippery slope. If it is legitimate to put racism, anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and misogyny in the category of the properly censored, why not, according to another censor’s sensibilities, climate change skepticism or support for President Trump?

I’m interested in how you respond to this poll:

Most Unethical Abortion Ruling Ever?

“OK, now where’s my gavel?”

You have to hand it to the Brits: I would have thought that it was impossible to come up with an abortion ruling that simultaneously violates the core principles of both pro- and anti-abortion advocates. Mostly, however, the ruling places one more slippery slope quiver among the anti-abortion movement’s  metaphorical arrows. This is what can happen when unborn human life is accorded no respect whatsoever.

Yesterday, Justice Nathalie Lieven issued the ruling at the Court of Protection, which hears cases on issues relating to people who lack the mental capability to make decisions for themselves. She ordered an abortion for a mentally-disabled woman who is 22 weeks pregnant, although both she and her mother wanted the baby to be born.  The judge said the decision was in the best interests of the woman, and, of course, the Court knows best. Presumably it did not think the abortion was in the best interests of the unborn child, which apparently was healthy and unimpaired.

But I’m just guessing at that.

The unidentified woman is in her 20s and reportedly has the mental capacity of a 6- to 9-year-old child. Nobody is certain how she became pregnant, but obviously that was not a determining factor in the decision, nor should it have been. The unborn child doesn’t care.

“I am acutely conscious of the fact that for the state to order a woman to have a termination where it appears that she doesn’t want it is an immense intrusion,” Justice Lieven said, but held that in the woman’s “best interests, not on society’s views of termination,” the baby must go.  Wait, what? How is aborting a child that both the potential mother and her own mother want to have and care for in the woman’s best interests? Or anyone’s best interests, other than members of the “It’s no baby, its an invading clump of cells that you better kill fast before it grows anymore” cult? Continue reading

KABOOM! YouTube Pulls “The Triumph Of The Will”—Hate Speech, You Know. Can’t Have That!

I would have included a clip of “Triumph of the Will” here, but apparently such a film never existed…

Well, I can’t complain too much; it’s been a while since a news story propelled my brains through my skull to the ceiling. However, the trigger this time demonstrates that several developments are even worse than I thought—or believed they would get—such as…

  • The Left’s embrace of historical airbrushing and censorship as part of its strategy of controlling thought and knowledge.
  • Social media’s meat-axe approach to policing online content.
  • The perilous state of the First Amendment as both the Left and its allied media seek to control art as well as speech.

YouTube released new policies regarding “hate speech” yesterday  to “reduce more hateful and supremacist content from YouTube.”  Since the new policies almost immediately resulted in the removal of Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 Nazi propaganda epic “Triumph of the Will,”    I can confidently conclude the the policies are far too broad, and also that those executing them have the perspective of the average person who has grown up in a cave, and the judgment of the PTA scold who wants to ban “Huckleberry Finn.” Continue reading

Are “Pre-Crime” Measures Absolutely Unethical?

Yes.

I guess that would be a too-short essay on an important topic with special contemporary relevance, so I am bound to say more. Nonetheless, I would be more comfortable with my fellow society members and more confident of the future of the the nation if the answer to the title query was universally accepted in absolute terms. For the acceptance of the principle of pre-crime is dangerous. It places less than a spiked mountain-climber’s boot on a slippery slope to totalitarianism, which is the real-life equivalent of the Devil in the scene above from “A Man For All Seasons,” both the play and the movie, based on the writings of Sir Thomas More, in which  More emotionally refuses to arrest a man because of the evil  he might do, before he has actually broken any laws:

More’s Wife: Arrest him!

Sir Thomas More: For what?

Wife: He’s dangerous!

William Roper (More’s Son in Law): He’s a spy.

Margaret (More’s daughter): Father, that man’s bad.

More: There’s no law against that.

Roper: There is – God’s law.

More: Then God can arrest him.

Wife: While you talk, he’s gone.

More: And go he should, were he the Devil himself, until he broke the law.

Roper: So, now you’d give the Devil the benefit of law?

More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s. And if you cut them down – and you’re just the man to do it – do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

Few more profound and important thoughts have been so eloquently and powerfully  presented in a motion picture as this scene from “A Man For All Seasons,” to which I will note (again) in passing, “Rotten Tomatoes” gives a lower score than “Birdman,”a fact that provides a disturbing snapshot of the state of our education, culture and priorities in 2019.

Both political parties have placed their feet on this slippery slope in the past. The essence of pre-crime is punishing a citizen for what he or she is, rather than for what he or she has done, on the theory that what an individual is makes that person “dangerous,” in the words of Mrs. More, for what they might do. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (and the Supreme Court that backed him) was responsible for probably the worst example of pre-crime in our history, when the United States, in full panic mode after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, imprisoned loyal Japanese-American citizens as a precautionary measure. Another panic, also not entirely groundless, led to a pre-crime mentality during the Red Scare and McCarthy episodes, seeking to punish Americans who belonged to the dreaded Communist Party, a nonetheless legal organization.

To be abundantly clear, I will define pre-crime as when the government removes a civil right, a Constitutional right, from a citizen, not as punishment for breaking a law, but based on what that individual believes, says, is or is understood to be. Continue reading