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Whole Spectrum Life


Life is beautiful, at every stage.

There’s tremendous beauty in the elderly. Our retirement communities, long-term care wards, and even homes in our neighborhoods are filled with silent heroes. It’s all too easy to forget these brave individuals who stormed the beaches of Normandy, ended systemic racial segregation in our society, and advanced science and technology. While the wrinkle lines on their faces tell of a lifetime of work, the stories behind these lives point to something much more profound.

Societies in the post-modern era have characteristically assigned greater value and prestige to youth. As a result, the elderly are seen as a burden. The truth is that the human person is intrinsically valuable at every state of development, even late in life.

Confusing Worth and Physicality
It’s normal in the workplace to consider the value that each employee brings to the company. Those who generate the most value find the most opportunity for upward mobility. Those who generate the least value find themselves laid off at the first sign of fiscal problems.

It’s troubling that we’ve collectively brought that sense of utility into the realm of human worth. Those who are mentally ill, or who are developmentally or physically disabled, are seen as more disposable than those people who are able-bodied. Reflect on the sheer number of pregnancies that are electively aborted based on the results of down syndrome screening. A human life is ended, by the choice of the parent, based on the probability of a medical test. How profoundly tragic.

We will never solve societal ills like racism or xenophobia until we get past this acute limiting of what constitutes a person and who has value.

There’s no connection between the worth of a human person and their physicality. They are two distinct and separate matters. The worth of a human person is unmitigated. No condition, illness, level of health, dysfunction, or deformity can minimize or reduce the worth and dignity of a human person. Conversely, physicality has a wide range of permutations. We have people of different skin colors, hair colors, builds, heights and weights. In spite of these variations, we are all human persons.

The Insidious Essence of Euthanasia
Euthanasia is a polite way to describe suicide, if not outright homicide. As the body ages, its systems experience dysfunctions at greater frequencies and intensity. This is regrettable, but expected. All matter breaks down over time. Getting older, without exception, means more doctors visits, more prescription pills, and decreased mobility. It is asinine to equate this natural progression with a decrease in value.

At its core, euthanasia is an insidious, selfish idea that threatens the dignity of a human person. Assigning an arbitrary end date to the life of a human person on the basis of physicality is indefensible. It requires an admission that a human person is so worthless that they are better off dead.

It’s fair to say that, in those jurisdictions where criminality has been removed from euthanasia, the option is not being discussed with the happy, healthy, and well-adjusted. Rather, it’s the sick, the disabled, the vulnerable, and the lonely that are being offered this depraved choice. This is reminiscent of some of the darkest chapters in human history.

The credentials of physicians who participate in these state-sanctioned euthanasia programs should be revoked. Attempting to defend their actions as ethical calls into question their medical and professional judgement as physicians. Continuing to license or board certify them casts serious doubt on the credibility of peer governing bodies who act as arbiters of medical licensure.

The Right to Experience
Life is a spectrum, filled with developmental milestones and stages. Each human person has the innate and absolute right to experience each stage without the specter of being deemed to be of no more use to society or the state.

Indubitably, each stage comes with its own struggles, sufferings, and joys. Dysfunctions and disorders must be managed and appropriately treated within the standard of care. Major cities around the globe have Children’s Hospitals to treat sick children with serious illnesses. These children have just as much value and worth as an octogenarian in an intensive care unit at a community hospital.

No condition or stage of illness renders a human life as worthless, unimportant, less than, or other than human.

About the Author

CHET COLLINS is a full-time sidekick to three small humans. He gets his best creative work done during their nap time. He’s had a keen interest in bioethics since 2003.

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