Europe’s Euthanasia Craze

The case of Frank Van Den Bleeken—the Belgian murderer and rapist who requested to be euthanized rather than spend life in prison—has provoked its fair share of comment. And rightly so, the facts of this case are undoubtedly shocking. But far more shocking is the rapidly growing euthanasia culture that made this whole affair possible. This increasing normalization of euthanasia is just one of many social trends that reveals a Europe that is becoming profoundly estranged from its Judeo-Christian heritage. As that happens, European societies are losing the moral and spiritual armory with which to resist the gradual slide into a complacent nihilism Continue Reading »

The Historical Kevorkian

I am often asked for interviews by students who are writing papers about the assisted suicide issue. I am always happy to oblige. Most ask why I oppose assisted suicide and whether I think guidelines can prevent the slippery slope. But, the other day, I was contacted by a high-schooler writing a paper about something I had never considered: the historical significance of Jack Kevorkian. Continue Reading »

Death With Aesthetics

We don’t speak plainly in public discourse anymore. Rather, we equivocate and deploy euphemisms to sanitize our debates. Take the passing of Brittany Maynard by her own hand, which the media has repeatedly characterized as an act of “dignity.” To be sure, Maynard died with human dignity—but not because she committed suicide. Human dignity is intrinsic. Indeed, to accept the premise of suicide as death with dignity says—or at least strongly implies—that patients who expire naturally die with indignity. Continue Reading »

Of Michael Landon and Brittany Maynard

Michael Landon, the hugely popular television star of BonanzaLittle House on the Prairie, and Highway to Heaven, died in 1991 at age fifty-four. Landon’s last act—if you will—was widely hailed as his best: He publicly announced his diagnosis with terminal pancreatic cancer, appeared on the Tonight Show to openly discuss his pending death with Johnny Carson (almost unprecedented back then), and gave several interviews announcing his determination to hang on until the end. He told Life, “If I’m gonna die, death’s gonna have to do a lot of fighting to get me.” Continue Reading »

Lethal Ageism

story out of Belgium vividly illustrates how our elderly are becoming personae non gratae in a society increasingly obsessed with avoiding difficulty. Francis and Anne are healthy and happily married octogenarians. Not wanting to live without each other, they plan to die together on their sixty-fourth anniversary. Rather than engaging suicide prevention, their children procured a doctor to euthanize them. Continue Reading »

How We Portray Suffering and Suicide

Those of us who have never experienced severe physical disability have no clue about the depth of suffering it can cause. But NPR’s megastar talk show host Dianne Rehm does, up close and personal. Her husband John had severe and progressive Parkinson’s disease, leading him to suicidal despair. John asked his doctor for assisted suicide. Told that was not possible, he starved himself to death—a process that euthanasia activists call “voluntary stop eating and drinking,” or VSED. Continue Reading »

What Happened to Switzerland

In 2008, bioethicist Yuval Levin in his book Imagining the Future: Science and American Democracy identified a subtle but momentous shift in the philosophical driver of the West:

The worldview of modern science . . . sees health not only as a foundation but also a principal goal, not only as a beginning but also an end. Relief and preservation—from disease and pain, from misery and necessity—become the defining ends of human action, and therefore of human societies.
Continue Reading »