Something terrible happened in The Netherlands last week that will have profound consequences around the world.
Not since Germany occupied Holland six decades ago has there been an official policy declaring some people unfit to live and worthy of forced extermination. But last week, the Dutch parliament gave final approval to a new euthanasia law that will allow doctors to end a life when it is subjectively decided that the life is no longer worth living.
The usual assurances have been given by government and the medical establishment to pacify the masses, 10,000 of which demonstrated against the measure outside the Parliament building in the Hague the day of the vote. Two doctors will have to validate that the patient is terminally ill, that he or she suffers "unbearably" and wants to die. But the principle of an unalienable right to life, which began to fall when abortion was legalized, has crashed to the pavement with the Dutch government's validation of euthanasia.
How quickly we have regressed from all life having value to negotiating the circumstances of our own and other's demise. The sick elderly will be first, followed by the mentally handicapped, then the physically disabled and finally, anyone society deems, for whatever reason, to have placed too great an economic, social or personal burden on the state or a family member. Too extreme? On what basis can anyone oppose these horrors when the only principal protecting human life has been compromised? Who is to say "no" when voters, opinion polls and "experts" say "yes"?
A "right to die" is quite different from an individual's right to refuse treatment. The common law has long recognized the latter. But when a right is elevated to the level of a constitutional principle, then the courts are empowered to decide whether to expand or contract that right, as they did in America beginning with the so-called "right to privacy," which is what lead to the elimination of all abortion restrictions.
People who lightly esteem human life and think of us as having been produced by an evolutionary process stemming from random chance are the most likely to embrace euthanasia.
In their prophetic 1979 book, "Whatever Happened to the Human Race?", former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and the late philosopher-theologian Francis Schaeffer warned of the coming "arbitrary reclassification as nonpersons (of) the elderly." This, they note, "will become increasingly so as the proportion of the old and weak in relation to the young and strong becomes abnormally large, due to the growing antifamily sentiment, the abortion rate, and medicine's contribution to the lengthening of the normal life span. The imbalance will cause many of the young to perceive the old as a cramping nuisance in the hedonistic lifestyle they claim as their right. As the demand for affluence continues and the economic crunch gets greater, the amount of compassion that the legislature and the courts will have for the old does not seem likely to be significant considering the precedent of the nonprotection given to the unborn and newborn."
Exactly a century ago, journalist Abraham Kuyper became Prime Minister of The Netherlands. As Mckendree Langley writes in his book, "The Practice of Political Spirituality: Episodes From the Public Career of Abraham Kuyper": "Queen Wilhelmina opened Parliament with the annual Speech from the Throne, written by the Prime Minister...Emphasizing the spiritual interests of the nation, the Queen declared that cabinet policy would be based on the Christian foundations of society. The ethical character of public life would have to be more carefully protected by law." The moral descendants of Kuyper demonstrated outside Parliament last week in favor of that view, while inside legislators marked the centennial of Kuyper's inaugural with a vote that was the antithesis of everything he believed.
How quickly a society can slide toward perdition with no compass and no objective standard of right and wrong. First, the Nazis dehumanized the Dutch Jews. Now the Dutch - Jews and Gentiles (with others soon to follow) - are dehumanizing themselves.