ISSUES - End of Life Issues
Respect for the dignity of life must extend to the sick, disabled, elderly, and those near death. Regardless of a person’s so-called ‘utility’, vulnerable persons are deserving of compassionate care and medical treatment.
Ethical concerns regarding the rationing of health care are increasing as treatment protocols are revised to withhold food and water from those labeled ‘burdensome’ or deemed by someone to have a so-called ‘poor quality of life’. In such cases, death results not from illness, disease or organ malfunction but from starvation and dehydration. Patients, who are incapacitated, but are not dying or near death, need special protection.
Legislation to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide are presenting lawmakers with challenges to a culture of life as they struggle with demographic changes that have resulted in aging populations and unsustainably low levels of fertility. Many governments have been slow to re-shape health care infrastructure and make provisions for a growing population of retirees that deserves to be protected and treated with respect and dignity.
Governments have failed to recognize the increasing number of individuals around the world afflicted with dementia who cannot rely on traditional systems of support because valuable family caregivers were never born. The WHO estimates there are currently 35.6 million cases of dementia around the world and expects the number to double by 2030 and triple by 2050. There are proposals that seek to euthanize those with diminished capacity.
Newborns born with disabilities would be destroyed through proposals such as the controversial Dutch protocol, “The Groningen Protocol for Euthanasia in Newborns”. The protocol establishes guidelines for ending the lives of newborns, and promotes a eugenics policy as a quality of life issue over the sanctity of life.
PNCI supports health care policies that respect life regardless of condition of dependency or state of disability, and opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Global Rate of Dementia Grows
as Family Caregivers Vanish
Institute for the Study of
Disability and Bioethics
International Task Force on
Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide
Terri Schindler Schiavo