Kids and Euthanasia

By Marker, Rita L. | The Human Life Review, Winter 2000 | Go to article overview

Kids and Euthanasia


Marker, Rita L., The Human Life Review


Could children ever be eligible for euthanasia?

Even to ask such a question brands the questioner as a hysterical opponent of euthanasia trying to use emotion-laden scare tactics.

Euthanasia supporters have worked mightily and successfully to persuade the public that the typical recipient of legalized death would be an elderly person who, on his deathbed, freely chooses to die sooner rather than later. This image has been cemented in the public consciousness. Even opponents of euthanasia are affronted by any suggestion that young people would be among the targets were assisted suicide legalized.

This was readily apparent during a 1997 campaign to repeal Oregon's "Death with Dignity Act." In 1994, Oregon became the only place in the entire world where the law has transformed the crime of assisted suicide into a medical treatment. The law was held up in the courts and, before it went into effect, voters were faced with an attempt to repeal it. Television commercials were duly produced. One such commercial, intended to persuade voters to overturn the law, was the "Billy" commercial. It depicted a young man of about 19 or 20 who appeared frightened and desperate on receiving the diagnosis of a terminal condition and opted for the lethal dose. A voice-over explained that Billy's death from the drugs, far from being peaceful, could be lingering and painful.

The Billy ad was rejected by six television stations, including all three network affiliates in Portland. It was called "distasteful," "over-the-edge," "disgusting," and "unbelievable" by both sides. Although some of the rejection of the commercial's message centered on the claims about lingering death, most people were turned off by Billy's youth. No one could believe that someone who looked like a college freshman would qualify for doctorassisted suicide.

The ad-although accurate-went too far. It violated a major tenet in the art of argument and persuasion: "If a listener thinks that you are speaking falsely about any fact, she will be less likely to believe other facts that you assert or inferences that you suggest should be drawn."1

That is, not only is it important to tell the truth, it is also important to tell the believable truth. Until now, facts about euthanasia and children have been clearly in the realm of unbelievable truth. But, last summer, a development in the Netherlands changed that ever so slightly.

Wake-up Call from the Netherlands

Euthanasia has been widely and openly practiced in the Netherlands for years, yet it has remained technically illegal. (The practice is justified under the legal doctrine of force majeure. Under this doctrine, it is deemed that physicians are caught between two duties-following the law and relieving patient suffering-and, thus, responsibility to the patient makes euthanasia permissible, if not legal.) In mid-August, the Dutch government published a proposal to formally legalize the practice.

According to the proposal, euthanasia would be legal if:

* The patient makes a voluntary request;

* The patient is suffering irremediable and unbearable pain (Note: Dutch court decisions have found that either "psychic" (emotional) or physical pain can be used to meet the criterion of "unbearable suffering," terminal illness has never been a requirement for euthanasia in the Netherlands);

* All medical options have been exhausted;

* A second medical opinion has been obtained;

* The euthanasia death is "carefully carried out"; and

* The case is reported by the physician.2

These provisions would have received little attention-other than a report that technical legalization of a current practice was set to take place-had it not been for another aspect of the proposal: It also provided for legalization of euthanasia for children. World attention focused on that aspect of the plan: "The most eye-catching aspect of the bill, and one that has focused international attention on the Netherlands, is that it would give children between the ages of 12 and 16 the right to request euthanasia and-with the doctor's consent-have their wishes prevail even if their parents object.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Kids and Euthanasia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.