Euthanasia: "We do it Because we Can."
By Ken Concannon
"Euthanasia" is an act most often practiced on our pets — our dogs, our cats. We have them "put down," or "put to sleep," or "euthanized" when they become so ill that there is no likelihood that they will ever get better. We tell ourselves that we deliberately end their lives to end their suffering. And maybe we do.
Then again, a crippled and incontinent German Shepherd in your house can be incredibly inconvenient. When we end his suffering we also end ours, while telling ourselves we’re doing it for him. After the deed is done we mourn him for a little bit. We remember him at his best, when he did his business outside. And then we contemplate our next dog — something smaller, maybe a Cocker Spaniel this time.
Regardless of whether we euthanize our disabled pets to ease their suffering or to end the inconvenience they cause, we do it because our society recognizes euthanizing pets as acceptable behavior. We do it because the lives of animals are not sacred. We do it because they have no inalienable right to life. We do it because we can.
Because their lives are not sacred, we can run over an animal on the road — a squirrel, a groundhog, somebody’s pet — and drive off, without fear of prosecution by the law. Because animal lives are not sacred we can breed them for meat, slaughter them and then eat them. We can conduct horrific scientific experiments on them. We can do these terrible things to them and break no law because we have been given dominion over them.
Christian tradition, combined with the awful history of the Nazi euthanasia programs of the last century, has taught us that euthanizing human beings is inherently wrong. Human life is considered sacred. We are consequently held to a higher standard when it comes to caring for the weakest among us. We cannot euthanize the sick and the elderly when they become incontinent and are in pain — even to end their suffering. Euthanasia for human beings is illegal almost everywhere.
But the trend is changing. For more reasons than I have room to mention here the efficacy of euthanizing human beings is now discussed in university classrooms, in legislative bodies and in court rooms.
The euthanasia movement is on the rise. It is now legal in Belgium and the Netherlands. Assisted suicide, a form of passive euthanasia, is legal in Oregon. American courts have lately been siding with what Pope John Paul II called the "culture of death." Our courts have recently thwarted federal efforts to undo Oregon’s assisted suicide program, and to save a disabled Florida woman from "right to die" activists.
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that God took Pope John Paul II and Terri Schiavo within days of each other right after Easter. It forced us to consider the contrast between the two deaths.
On the one hand John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla, lived a very full life, demonstrating for us not only how to live, but also how to overcome adversity, how to accept suffering, and finally, how to die. On the other hand the disabled Terri Schiavo died a victim of the culture of death John Paul II fought throughout his papacy.
She was officially diagnosed by the court that ordered her starvation death as being in a persistent vegetative state and was described by those who wanted to see her dead as a "vegetable." The euthanasia activist lawyer who represented her husband talked of the need to "end her suffering" while advocating capital punishment for this innocent woman by starvation.
Almost no one in the media picked up on the fact that vegetables don’t suffer. If she really was in a persistent vegetative state — a very debatable issue — she would be unaware of what was happening to her and she would feel no pain. So why all the concern about her suffering?
Her awful death was a testament to the stupidity, insanity and most of all the deceit inherent in the culture of death that is engulfing the Western world. While euthanasia activists spin euphemisms about the "quality of life" and the "right to die," they are trying to get us to forget that our lives, unlike those of animals, are sacred.