Ken Connor

To overcome that instinctive cultural bias, the Kendal staff steps in to explain things to its patients. While the explanation is couched in quality of life terms and foreboding statistics, underneath lies a utilitarian concern never overtly addressed. In her article, Gross explains, "The costliest patients—the elderly with chronic illnesses—are the only group with universal health coverage under Medicare, leading to huge federal expenditures that experts agree are unsustainable as boomers age." Thus, there are financial benefits that flow from every elderly person's decision to "die with dignity."

Recent experience in The Netherlands illustrates where deceptive language about euthanasia can lead. When The Netherlands first legalized euthanasia, it was only allowed in rare cases of "intolerable suffering." "The guidelines were designed specifically to keep assisted suicide occurrences few and far between by establishing demanding conditions that had to be met, at the risk of criminal prosecution." Yet doctors soon began interpreting these guidelines broadly, and the government and the courts did almost nothing to prevent it. Now the Netherlands, under its euthanasia law, allows the killing of infants with non-life threatening birth defects. Additionally, Dutch doctors are euthanizing patients without their permission. Repeated studies have demonstrated that 900-1000 patients experience "termination without request or consent" every year. The Dutch government usually turns a blind eye to this illegal practice as well.

If The Netherlands is any indication, the citizens of the United States ought to guard aggressively against the rhetorical gyrations of euthanasia's proponents. No matter how flowery their language is, they promote the killing of human beings. They propose a "right to die" but, in actuality, they want the right to kill.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.