No. We cannot remain indifferent. Nor can we avoid the chill running through our backs before those who in these sad hours are celebrating Belgium as a beacon of civilization for setting the (dismal, extremely sad) record as the first Country that granted euthanasia to a minor. Belgium is the same Country where one in five adolescents consider committing suicide. And one in ten succeeds. It’s the Country with the highest record of lifelong mental suffering – with Holland and France – (countries with legislation allowing various forms of euthanasia) in the so-called developed Europe, amounting to 29% of the overall population (18% in Italy). According to a European survey, Italy (the city of Milan) ranks ninth in terms of cocaine consumption. Guess who’s first? Belgium (Anvers), with 2.5Kg of cocaine per 1000 inhabitants! The Netherlands (Amsterdam) holds the record of cannabis consumption. Indeed, studies that survey the degree of happiness according to GDP criteria register different figures. But that’s the point: that kind of happiness based on GDP and on a presumed feeling of freedom, is a human term. And it’s no coincidence that
Countries with high GDP have an equally high rate of mental suffering. And that’s where euthanasia is considered a viable option.
They hasted to say that the first minor that was granted euthanasia wasn’t depressed. In fact, they claimed that she had expressed full consensus, and so did her parents. Is that truly the case? Is an adolescent considered incapable of voting, getting married, dealing with financial business or even handling her sexual sphere, mature enough to express the complex decision to die? Could an adolescent (and her parents) worn out by a devastating disease, be truly serene, have the appropriate peace of mind, and not be depressed, as they hastened to declare? Is killing her the only way to grant her a dignified death, as if palliative treatment and the medical management of pain weren’t effective? My answer is NO.
I don’t believe that so sorely tried and vulnerable people have the authentic freedom to choose.
In my opinion a dignified answer consists in not leaving alone those people experiencing such tragic situations. The choice of euthanasia responds to criteria motivated by depression, desperation and loneliness. And there are also economic reasons. It could be that financial and economic criteria exploit situations of desperation: we are preparing the ground for a society that will leave no room for people affected by Alzheimer’s disease (as happens in Holland and Belgium), people whose minds are inhabited by a bizarre stranger called dementia, namely the last among the last, defenceless people considered economically useless (as well as costly).
Euthanasia reflects a sad society, where depression (according to the WHO), will be the primary cause of invalidity in the next 3-4 years.
Finally, I don’t believe that suffering is in itself void of sense and meaning. I have seen authentic relationships recover new life in the midst of agony experiencing true closeness, rediscovering the other person and rediscovering love. I saw, from personal and professional experience, Alzheimer patients live moments of renewed happiness. I saw families rediscover what is authentic in the midst of tragic situations. I saw people die with authentic, solemn dignity. This is what we should see and aim at: at a dignified form of death, respectful of the human person, rather than being accomplices of a deadly society. It can’t be taken for granted nor is it an easy task. But ultimately I do believe that in order to say No to all forms of euthanasia we need to rediscover the sense and the meaning of suffering.