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When illness becomes an offense–Part 1

October 6, 2007

I keep seeing signs that being sick can get you arrested or casually executed.

A 65-year-old diabetic man is put off a train and left where there is no food or water, several miles from a station or any facilities. Miraculously, he is found two days later, and survives. A drunk and disorderly (not yet a capital crime in this country) woman, traveling to an alcohol treatment center, is arrested in an airport and left alone, shackled, in a holding cell. She died. Attorney Andrew Speaker is treated as a public enemy for traveling with tuberculosis he maintains he did not know was contagious, and which it turns out, probably was not contagious. Meanwhile, people stream into our country with TB, dengue fever, and Ebola, but they are not educated Americans, so they are not criminals. Terry Schiavo, of course, is legendary. She was executed by court order for being brain-impaired.

I’m a lawyer with a master’s degree in public health, so my awareness of and advocate’s zeal for these sorts of things is naturally heightened. I have a chronic disease that is life-threatening without lifelong medication and vigilance. My circumstances not only require vigilance as to my condition, but vigilance over political policy and public opinion.

The Nazis systematically gassed psychiatric patients and handicapped children.

“The first gas chamber was designed by professors of psychiatry from 12 major German universities. Psychiatric patients were executed until the hospitals were almost empty. They were joined by some pediatricians, who began by emptying the institutions for handicapped children in 1939. By 1945 almost 300,000 Germans were killed. By then, these doctors were killing bed wetters, children with misshapen ears, and those with learning disabilities. (Wertham, The German Euthanasia Program, Hayes Publishing Co., Cinn, 1977, p.47).” Source: League for Life

The Canadian group from which the above cite is taken notes that,

“It would be impossible to control the abuses that legalization [of voluntary euthanasia] would unleash on society. What would begin as voluntary would soon become involuntary. What begins as the right-to-die becomes the duty to die, and the duty to die quickly becomes the obligation to die.” (loc cit.)

Common morality recognizes the moral hazard of declining respect for people with illnesses; the Sixth Commandment carves out no exception for the sick. Nor does illness constitute a defense when a person violates the Sixth or any other Commandment. Human responsibility is always on the table. A murderer is no less a murderer and no less deserves the punishment due a murderer, just because he is “sick.” The bounds of the argument must be clear that a person is not to be punished for being sick–but he remains responsible to the moral law of God and the law of his land notwithstanding his illness.

I am concerned because “voluntary euthanasia” has become globally acceptable and a popular cause. And as the League for Life notes, the bright line between voluntary and involuntary can dim before we know what happened. It’s a thin gate that stems this flood.

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One Comment
  1. October 8, 2007 3:20 am

    I’m glad you’re keeping tabs on this stuff.

    “Love your neighbor” is now defined as, “remove yourself so as not to burden the rest of us…” We see this in abortions where the parent(s) refuse to be burdened by another human being.

    All of this is in the name of preserving one’s “nice life” in this world. Once the sick are dead, the poor will be next!

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