NRL News

What’s airing on Life Perspective Today? “Combating Euthanasia,” Part 1

by | Oct 18, 2012

By Carol Tobias, NRLC President & Pro-Life Perspective Host

NRLC President Carol Tobias

The fight over euthanasia has not been like the fight over abortion.  Many members of the Right to Life Movement can recall exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard about Roe v. Wade.  In one calamitous stroke, the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision swept away the laws of all 50 states and overnight instituted the regime of abortion on demand.  The tragedy was overwhelming, but – for that very reason – unmistakable, and the grim event sparked the outrage of millions of Americans.  Galvanized, we built a Movement whose work has now brought our country to the threshold of Roe’s reversal.

And since the inception of our Movement in the late 1960s, we have been deeply concerned that, alongside the horror of abortion, we would see society slide toward acceptance of euthanasia. After all as a Movement we have been fully committed to protect those who cannot speak for themselves.

But, unlike abortion, the progress of euthanasia has seen no such singular shattering event to compare with Roe.  Instead, the legalization and acceptance of euthanasia has proceeded slowly, step by step, in a sequence so gradual as almost to be imperceptible.

Now, we find that because of society’s slow acceptance of assisted suicide – not unlike a frog in a slowly boiling pot of water – we find ourselves are threatened.  Our own families’ lives – our own parents and children – are now directly and imminently at risk.

The point cannot be made too strongly.  The trends in medical practice, in the courts, and in the legislatures, are all too clear.  The assumptions of 30 years ago, that the presumption in all medical cases is for life, has been virtually reversed in cases in which quote “quality of life” or degree of disability falls short of the medically approved or socially accepted norm.

Denial of life-saving medical treatment, and even food and fluids, to people who have never expressed any rejection of them, has become the norm.  Their denial to people who say they want them is now increasingly practiced in hospitals all over America.   How has it come to this?  How has it seemingly slipped up on us?

The advocates of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide began in the 1970s by building on an almost universally accepted premise that, in the absence of truly exceptional circumstances, a competent adult may accept or reject any medical treatment.  Rooted in the doctrine of informed consent and long accepted in the common law, this principle became the starting point for a steady progression in two directions, along two axes.

On one axis is the degree of voluntariness.  There are three basic degrees:  euthanasia may be voluntary–meaning the patient, while competent, has requested it; there is non-voluntary–meaning the patient’s wishes are unknown and the courts or a surrogate impose it; or involuntary–meaning that death is chosen for the patient against his explicit wishes.

On the other axis is the method by which death comes: moving progressively from deprival of life-saving medical treatment through starvation and dehydration by removal of food and fluids straight to direct killing.

Tomorrow, we’ll continue our discussion of the euthanasia movement and what we can do to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our society from those who are seemingly obsessed with death.  In the meantime, I encourage you to visit our website at www. for more information about euthanasia and health-care related topics.

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Categories: Euthanasia