In my first anti-euthanasia column, written for Newsweek in 1993, I warned that if assisted suicide/euthanasia became legal and normalized, it would lead to “organ harvesting thrown in as a plum to society.” Needless to say, I was called a fear monger, alarmist, and hysteric — and those were the polite hate mailers.
I was also right. Belgium and the Netherlands allow the conjoining of euthanasia and organ donation — including of the mentally ill. So does Canada, our closest cultural cousins, although not yet of the mentally ill. But I am sure that is coming once they too can be given the lethal jab in about a year. In Ontario, the organ-donation organization will even contact the person to be killed to ask, in effect, whether they can have the person’s liver.
Now Spain has joined the euthanize-and-harvest club. From the Bioedge story:
Spain legalised euthanasia on June 25 last year and already transplant surgeons are using organs from euthanised patients. According to a report in the Spanish magazine Redaccíon Médica, 7 patients donated their organs – even though the government has still not release national guidelines for such procedures.
Why the rush?
The head of Spain’s National Transplant Organization (ONT), Beatriz Domínguez-Gil, said that the ONT “intuited” [sic] that some euthanasia patients would like to donate their organs. It quickly drafted some guidelines for transplant coordinators so that euthanasia donation could be “normalised” throughout the country.
No word on what caused those who were killed to ask for the lethal jab.
This is as crassly utilitarian as it gets, and the logic seems inescapable. If we are willing to kill them to end suffering, we might as well get some societal good out of their deaths.
But before you jump on that bandwagon, note that these patients are rarely, if ever, offered suicide prevention. Moreover, the cruel notion could easily be planted in the minds of despairing patients that their deaths will have greater value to society than their continuing lives. Indeed, that idea could be the tipping point that convinces them to jump prematurely into the grave.
At least no one calls me an alarmist anymore. Now, the problem is the same kinds of people who decried me for the warning previously, sniff that organ harvesting of the just euthanized is a splendid idea, and yes indeed, a tasty “plum” for society.