British ethicist: Senile should be “put down”

posted at 9:00 am on September 19, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

In yet another revealing moment for nationalized health care, a highly respected British ethicist said that dementia sufferers should get euthanized in order to preserve resources for healthier people.   Baroness Warnock, described as “Britain’s leading moral philosopher”, said that the government should license people to be “put down” and stop being a drain on society:

The veteran Government adviser said pensioners in mental decline are “wasting people’s lives” because of the care they require and should be allowed to opt for euthanasia even if they are not in pain.

She insisted there was “nothing wrong” with people being helped to die for the sake of their loved ones or society.

The 84-year-old added that she hoped people will soon be “licensed to put others down” if they are unable to look after themselves. …

Lady Warnock said: “If you’re demented, you’re wasting people’s lives – your family’s lives – and you’re wasting the resources of the National Health Service.

“I’m absolutely, fully in agreement with the argument that if pain is insufferable, then someone should be given help to die, but I feel there’s a wider argument that if somebody absolutely, desperately wants to die because they’re a burden to their family, or the state, then I think they too should be allowed to die.

“Actually I’ve just written an article called ‘A Duty to Die?’ for a Norwegian periodical. I wrote it really suggesting that there’s nothing wrong with feeling you ought to do so for the sake of others as well as yourself.”

Shocking?  It shouldn’t be.  When the State has the burden of providing “free” medical care, that care will get rationed in ways that are, unfortunately, all too predictable.  Human life stops being sacred and instead becomes a commodity with a balance sheet.  If bureaucrats decide that a particular life, or a class of life, has become a net negative, then eventually they will find ways to eliminate the liability.

Totalitarian governments have always worked this way; the shock comes from the same impulse occuring in supposedly enlightened democracies.  We’re seeing a new kind of government these nanny states, though — a democratic totalitarianism that makes all of the choices for its subjects after they willingly give the bureaucracy the power of life and death over them.  It’s a voluntary totalitarianism, and it starts by assigning government the role of caretaker from cradle to grave, the latter point coming at their choosing.

Western civilization built itself on the sanctity of human life and the rights of the individual.  It doesn’t take much for Westerners to give up that birthright.  The only incentive for voluntary slavery appears to be low-cost prescriptions and catastrophic hospital coverage.  Once we buy into that system, all manner of personal choices get removed: the foods you can eat, the beverages you can drink, your pastimes, and apparently your right not to be murdered just to clear a hospital bed.

Resources will get rationed in one manner or another. Only air exists in such abundance that it needs no rationing.  The question for any society is whether they will choose the efficient method of market-based rationing or the caprice of a top-down bureaucratic diktat.  The former encourages more of the resource to be produced, while the latter restricts new resources and forces a shortage management system onto its community.  We see this more clearly in Britain’s NHS than in any other Western construct, and Baroness Warnock’s monstrous demand is only the natural result.

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The 84-year-old added that she hoped people will soon be “licensed to put others down” if they are unable to look after themselves. …

Umm, starting with you right?

Ed you’re slipping. Where’s the “Logan Run” graphic for this thread?

Run Logan run!

Mojave Mark on September 19, 2008 at 7:35 PM

neuquenguy on September 19, 2008 at 6:28 PM

thank you. I found it interesting, and a little simplistic with regard to the dread ‘fundamentalism’. for example:

For it demands an unshakable adherence to rigid doctrinal points of view and imposes, as the only source of teaching for Christian life and salvation, a reading of the Bible which rejects all questioning and any kind of critical research.

please, this is laughable. there is great dispute among those evil fundamentalists about a great many points, including prophecy, whether it is possible to lose your salvation, etc.

Fundamentalism likewise tends to adopt very narrow points of view. It accepts the literal reality of an ancient, out-of-date cosmology simply because it is found expressed in the Bible

what cosmology is ‘outdated’ in the bible?

The fundamentalist approach is dangerous, for it is attractive to people who look to the Bible for ready answers to the problems of life

this is insulting and just a lie. pathetic. looks like the catholic church has a typical liberal view of those crazed fundamentalists. of which I am proudly one.

right4life on September 19, 2008 at 7:42 PM

I agree with this idea but only for Brits with bad teeth.

TheSitRep on September 19, 2008 at 9:28 AM

BEST LINE I’VE READ ALL DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So that would leave what, 10-12 folks in all of England? Castles would go for cheap!!!!! I get dibs on Windsor!!!

Bubba Redneck on September 19, 2008 at 8:32 PM

Is she one of the 80% of Brits that demands the public elect Obama? God help us all.

Fuquay Steve on September 19, 2008 at 9:03 PM

The bitter angry woman she had become softened into the peace of her inner world and was happy…I have no doubt she would have wanted to live those years, and we wanted her too.

I see the same thing with my mother – her dementia has allowed her to become more emotionally open. To see her in her world, interacting with people, touching, holding hands, wearing shirts with sequins!etc is heartwarming, especially since she would never ever have done that when she was “herself”

Queen0fCups on September 19, 2008 at 9:15 PM

this is insulting and just a lie. pathetic. looks like the catholic church has a typical liberal view of those crazed fundamentalists. of which I am proudly one.

right4life on September 19, 2008 at 7:42 PM

I am sorry you found it insulting, I believe that the document defines the concept of “fundamentalist interpretation” very specifically and narrowly, not referring to fundamentalism as a denomination or particular christian tradition but just as one among different methods of interpreting the Bible described in the text. I don’t know if fundamentalism as a christian tradition interprets the bible in a purely “fundamentalist” way or a “literal” way or in a “contextual” or “cultural” approach.
The point is that I don’t believe that the document is criticizing fundamentalists but is describing the dangers of a narrowly defined “fundamentalist approach” to interpreting the bible (which some catholics utilize) for example, when talking about outdated cosmology, someone can read the Bible in a strictly literal sense and come to the conclusion that the earth is flat and has “four corners” or that the sun, moon and stars are fixed in the firmament which is a dome above the earth. I don’t believe fundamentalism as a denomination interprets the bible that way but it is possible that someone might. Likewise, the other concerns you described are seen as possible pitfalls in a strictly literal interpretation of every word in the bible.
Anyway, I offered that link as a something that might help you understand a little better catholic thought regarding the interpretation of scripture. Again, I am sorry if you took offense at any of it. All I can say is that I have great respect for all christian traditions and I believe so does the catholic church, based on my reading of most documents dealing with ecumenism and the relationship between catholics and all their christian brothers. I have never seen or heard the terms “dreaded fundamentalists” or “evil fundamentalists” expressed by a practicing catholic or in any church writing, I am sorry if you have.
Sorry for the long post, this is my last on this subject.

neuquenguy on September 19, 2008 at 10:13 PM

The lie used to be that killing the patient was all about relieving the suffering of the terminally ill. Now it’s been exposed for what it really is,, relieving the suffering of the so called caregivers, and, of course, the state.

JellyToast on September 19, 2008 at 10:33 PM

Lead from the front, toots!

Amendment X on September 19, 2008 at 10:59 PM

Interested people can find Church teaching at the Vatican website, at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website, or from any parish priest.
Y-not on September 19, 2008 at 4:33 PM

I am familiar with the Pope’s statements about evolution from a few years ago but I didn’t know it from the context you provided. It looks like I gave more credit to Rome than I should have.

It’s interesting how Rome defends its authorities. First the magesterium itself and second the hermeneutic method of the world. This is not, however, something new. They should be turning to the only God-breathed authority, scripture.

I would have liked you to respond to my questions. They were not tricky.

To learn what scripture teaches about the good news of Jesus Christ, I recommend you visit the following site which contains the testimonies of over 50 former priests and 20 former nuns.
http://www.bereanbeacon.org/

shick on September 20, 2008 at 6:25 AM

Captain Ed said:

it starts by assigning government the role of caretaker from cradle to grave, the latter point coming at their choosing.

I’m not sure you should have left out the former point. Just listen to all the “enlightened ones” from the left talking about Sarah Palins little boy Trig – how he should have been aborted. If these people get full control, it won’t be long until abortion is mandatory for babies like Trig. And after that it’ll be mandatory for people with more than the “approved” amount of children. And after that??…. Lord help us.

*chugs*

drunkenmaster on September 20, 2008 at 6:47 AM

if you are really interested in understanding this, here is a comprehensive discussion on the subject form the Pontifical Biblical Commission on the Interpretation of the bible

neuquenguy on September 19, 2008 at 6:28 PM

Thank you for posting that link. It was very informative. I found its remarks about fundamentalism strongly misleading as another person has voiced similar concern. Fundamentalism, historically defined, focuses on the fundamentals of the Christian faith (excluding those that deny these fundamentals such as the Roman Catholic Church). Not all who hold to these fundamentals identify themselves as fundamentalists. One such fundamental is that scripture is the sole infallible source of authority for the church. The description given of fundamentalism in the below section is nothing less than a caricature and I doubt even represents the smallest portion of those that would claim to believe in the fundamentals of the Christian faith.

II. HERMENEUTICAL QUESTIONS, B. The Meaning of Inspired Scripture, 1. The Literal Sense.
The literal sense is not to be confused with the “literalist” sense to which fundamentalists are attached. It is not sufficient to translate a text word for word in order to obtain its literal sense. One must understand the text according to the literary conventions of the time. When a text is metaphorical, its literal sense is not that which flows immediately from a word-to-word translation (e.g. “Let your loins be girt”: Lk. 12:35), but that which corresponds to the metaphorical use of these terms (“Be ready for action”). When it is a question of a story, the literal sense does not necessarily imply belief that the facts recounted actually took place, for a story need not belong to the genre of history but be instead a work of imaginative fiction.

I am not saying that fundamentalists have never looked at a verse in the “literalist” sense. (Indeed Rome itself does this as well when interpreting the last supper.) Rather I am saying that as whole, fundamentalists seek to pull out of the text what the author has originally intended.

shick on September 20, 2008 at 6:54 AM

Queen0fCups on September 19, 2008 at 5:53 PM

amen.

maverick muse on September 20, 2008 at 8:04 AM

believe that the document defines the concept of “fundamentalist interpretation” very specifically and narrowly

Yes it does. I quoted part of it, and it sounds like a typical liberal caricature of the dreaded ‘fundamentalists’…who are really just people who believe what the bible says. and don’t have to approach it from psychological, interpretive, whatever viewpoint. in other words we just read it for what it says, and accept it for what it says, and don’t try to layer our own interpretation on top of it.

Bible in a strictly literal sense and come to the conclusion that the earth is flat and has “four corners” or that the sun, moon and stars are fixed in the firmament which is a dome above the earth.

nobobdy read the bible strictly literally, this is another caricature of the left. I mean seriously, people are smart enough, without some priest to tell them, that they can figure out which parts of the bible are to be taken literally, and which are symbolic, metaphorical, etc. its really not that hard, and you don’t need a degree to do it. for example when the bible talks about the stars falling to earth, it doesn’t refer to physical stars, but the bible calls angels stars in the OT.

and I believe so does the catholic church, based on my reading of most documents dealing with ecumenism and the relationship between catholics and all their christian brothers

please…

Pope: Other Christian Denominations Not True Churches
Tuesday, July 10, 2007

For the second time in a week, Pope Benedict XVI has corrected what he says are erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, reasserting the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church and saying other Christian communities were either defective or not true churches.

Benedict approved a document released Tuesday from his old office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which repeated church teaching on Catholic relations with other Christians.

While there was nothing doctrinally new in the document, it nevertheless prompted swift criticism from Protestants, Lutherans and other Christian denominations spawned by the 16th century reformation.

“It makes us question the seriousness with which the Roman Catholic Church takes its dialogues with the Reformed family and other families of the church,” said the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, which groups 75 million Reformed Christians in 214 churches in 107 countries.

link

right4life on September 20, 2008 at 9:59 AM

Ahem….it’s a woman.

I know, I know….fell outta the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.

LimeyGeek on September 19, 2008 at 12:37 PM

Well, she’s so ugly, it only can mean she climbed back up and fell again.

Tim Burton on September 20, 2008 at 11:50 AM

What to do about Stephen Hawking, upon arrival to Cambridge he started to develop ALS. If this discussion was about 50 years earlier he would have been considered a burden to society. Mr. Hawking was even considering to not go on for his doctorate because he knew he would die soon. He changed his mind after is marriage a few years later. Look at where he is today. I guess he has not contributed to British society, or even the rest of the world.

scruplesrx on September 20, 2008 at 1:17 PM

scruplesrx on September 20, 2008 at 1:17 PM

Good point but I think Lady Warnock would value Hawking because of his mind. It seems from her perspective that the value of the soul is propotional to ones IQ.

Still very sad.

shick on September 20, 2008 at 9:34 PM

You know who ought to be put down? Ugly old British women who look like men.

pabarge on September 21, 2008 at 6:27 AM

Nationalized health care at it’s finest.

scrubbiedude on September 22, 2008 at 1:10 PM

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