NEBRASKA RIGHT TO LIFE POSITION ON EUTHANASIA
Since the text of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade abortion decision by the United States Supreme Court states that states need not protect lives which are not “meaningful,” the pro-life movement has believed and is now witnessing through current promotion of euthanasia that devaluation of the lives of the unborn inevitably leads to the devaluing the lives of others such as the elderly, physically and mentally impaired, and the terminally ill. The term euthanasia (which means “good death”) is being stretched to encompass three quite different concepts.
DEATH WITH DIGNITY: This means allowing a patient to die a truly human death, free from the loneliness and pain often brought about by the application of “extraordinary” medical technology. It means letting death come as a deliverer when there is no hope or cure for continuation of life. This is not to say that we should neglect the dying patient. Like any other human being, he/she is entitled to medical care which is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances involved. A competent, non-suicidal individual has the right to refuse medical treatment, but not, nutrition and hydration. Decision-making for incompetent patients should be made on the basis of what treatment is available and the medical appropriateness of that treatment, and not someone’s judgment of the value of that individuals life or its quality.
MERCY KILLING: As opposed to permitting the dying to die naturally, mercy killing entails the intentional use of means intended to cause death or speed its coming. It can include giving a terminally ill patient a drug with the express intention of causing death, or it can include withdrawing “ordinary” (reasonable and prudent) medical care, i.e., allowing Mongoloid children to die of pneumonia. They say the suffering of the incurably or painfully ill (and/or defective) persons should not be prolonged or that others should not have to watch someone suffer.
DEATH SELECTION: (Killing as a medial management option). This involves the deliberate termination of lives no longer considered “socially useful.” “Managerial euthanasia” of this variety is the most menacing type of euthanasia, because it is rooted in a hard-core utilitarianism which sees no value beyond social utility. Managerial euthanasia threatens a wide rage of people – the habitual criminal, the aged, the mentally ill, the retarded or anyone who is not deemed socially and economically productive.
Managerial euthanasia is the “sleeper” of the euthanasia debate. Although some “social engineers” openly advocate killing for utilitarian reasons, most euthanasia advocates, at least for the moment, would stop with “mercy killing.” This makes it unclear exactly how the managerial elite would eliminate the “useless.” Overt killing would certainly have its place in their program, but is more likely that more subtle methods would be used; withdraw or withholding of ordinary preventative and/or restrictive medical care for certain categories of people “prioritizing” the use of health care resources to favor those considered more useful; and curtailing health research and development efforts in low priority areas, such as geriatric medicine.
The terms “death with dignity,” “mercy killing,” and “managerial euthanasia” are more helpful than the more commonly used categories (such as negative and positive euthanasia, voluntary and involuntary euthanasia, etc.) because they focus on those who promote one or more variations of euthanasia. But we must understand all the terms now in vogue and not allow the true nature of the controversy to be distorted or obscured by these terms.
For instance, “death with dignity” is frequently used to encompass more than the term as we defined it. Just as much of the abortion rhetoric was designed to make an ugly thing look beautiful, terms like “death with dignity” provide a good disguise for calculated killing. With this in mind, we must be extremely careful how we use this term.
The living will bandwagon is a precursor to euthanasia. Once concept is established in law, it could be expanded to include death requested on behalf of a patient by relatives, physicians or an agency of the state.
NRL Position: We oppose euthanasia and the removal of food or water from patients and oppose most Living Will legislation.
NEBRASKA RIGHT TO LIFE POSITION ON INFANTICIDE
WHAT THE LAW SAYS: In response to national publicity surrounding the withholding of food and medical treatment to infants in Indiana and New York, the U.S. Congress enacted the Child Abuse Amendments in 1984 and again in 1988. States wishing to receive federal child abuse funds must define as medical neglect with withholding of medically indicated treatment from handicapped infants with life-threatening conditions.
Nebraska continues to receive these federally funded child abuse funds, although implementation of a solid system for processing these cases through Child Protective Services and preventing the withholding of treatment remains incomplete.
Nebraska Right to Life believes that the presence or anticipation of a mental or physical disability does not justify the withholding or withdrawing of medical care. We oppose infanticide, the taking of a baby’s life upon or after birth by non-treatment or neglect. Society has the right and duty to intervene on behalf of minors and other incompetent individuals where life is in jeopardy and effective treatment is available.
Nebraska Right to Life has long been concerned with the practice of withholding or withdrawing medical care based on an individual’s mental or physical capabilities, a concern shared by numerous disabilities groups.
Films, videos and educational materials are available from Nebraska Right to Life.