I wish I had better news on this snowy morning, but I don't. Here are two bad items from abroad:
Holland has officially relaxed its rules for killing people with dementia. (My own strong suspicion is that they've been euthanizing them already, but this is official.) If you state ahead of time in writing that you want to be killed if you get Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia, then the doctors will legally bump you off under those circumstances. It won't even be bending the rules. It will be officially allowed by the rules. (Try not to choke laughing at the linked article's statement that euthanasia is allowed in Holland only under "strict conditions.")
I think that counts as "choice devours itself." Yeah, sure, it includes a nod to "choice" because you're supposed to have chosen to die ahead of time. And yes, it's a logical extension of dehydrating people to death based on their statements ahead of time. In fact, viewed in an entirely secular, utilitarian way, a lethal injection is more humane. (That is not to be taken as an endorsement.) But in either case, what we're doing is killing people who are mentally incompetent to ask to die. Which really isn't choice.
Our second item is a bit old now and comes from Quebec. A palliative care facility in that province that initially said they would resist the pressure to perform euthanasia at their location has changed its mind after polling its employees. I can't tell if this is the same institution at the University of Montreal that resisted the new law or a different one.
The centre says on its website that while it initially refused to offer the service, it recently changed its position after consulting staff and volunteers.
That sounds like a principled way to make a moral decision!
It says that 60 per cent participated in an online poll on the issue, and of those, 61 per cent were in favour of helping terminally ill patients who wish to end their life.
Not exactly rousing support, but who's counting?
The centre's board of directors voted unanimously in support to allow medically assisted suicide as a last resort when all other means of pain relief have been exhausted.
La Maison Aube-Lumiere says it wants to give itself enough time to learn the new rules surrounding doctor-assisted dying and properly train staff and volunteers.
Because murder must be tidy.
The article doesn't say whether individual doctors at the facility will be required to participate. I'm going to guess that they won't, but that they will be required to turn over the patient to someone else to kill them. Let me also add: I'm seeing nothing here about the patient's wanting to die. Just that the patient is suffering and the medical staff think that other means (than killing) have been exhausted. The exact involvement of the patient or the family is unclear, at least from this article.
Right now palliative care facilities in the U.S. often dehydrate patients to death. That's just a fact, supported by numerous anecdotes both from families and medical staff. In fact, usually one will be told that that's a natural way to die. I don't see the lethal injection culture on the move quite as fast in the U.S. as in Europe and Canada, but it really is plausible that it will come, given what we already do here. Here we still keep up the pretense that nobody is actually killing these patients.
I foresee a day (in some ways that day is already here) when family members who want to care for their terminally ill loved ones will have to do so at home in an environment where they have some control over what is done to them. This becomes complicated when the loved one is unable to eat on his own. But certainly dementia patients must not be left to the tender mercies of a secularized medical profession. And the word "secularized" is not meant to imply that an institution with a "Catholic identity" or other alleged Christian connection is necessarily safe.
For the moment we have the pretense in the U.S. that whether you are murdered or not when you are ill and vulnerable is up to you. Make use of that. Put it in writing that you don't want to be killed and that you do want nutrition and hydration, and make sure your family members know. In states with a durable power of attorney for health care, assign that DPA to someone you trust. These protective measures will help, here, for now.
P.S. I'm succumbing a little to the urge to snark here at the end, but let me just point out that, while the Canadian Supreme Court has now required assisted suicide throughout the country, Quebec was ahead. It is the most "advanced" province in this regard. The Catholic identity of Quebec, if anything, has actually been a predictor of its extreme social liberalism rather than otherwise, as it has fueled the perception of being different in Canada and needing to use political progressivism to express that difference. I'm not saying this is generally the case for a country's or region's Catholic identity. (Poland is an example in the other direction.) But I am saying that those who long for a confessional state should probably ask themselves why so many erstwhile confessional states in the world are in worse disarray than the "individualistic" Protestant areas in the U.S. (Compare the relatively crazier Catholic Ireland to the relatively more conservative North Ireland.) My own theory is that this is the "virus principle," whereby the centralized structures are taken over by an ideology alien to the founding principles. Another, complementary theory is that progressive Catholics claim that they represent the "otherness" of Catholic identity within a surrounding or nearby Protestant country.