After the pro-abortion agenda has had great victories in Latin America, there is still a threat to human life that is gaining more ground in our region, which is euthanasia or the so-called right to die. Veiled by a supposed compassion for people suffering from terminal illnesses, the promotion of this alleged right implicates many interests.
Before delving into the advances of this agenda in four Latin American countries, we will discuss some realities, often silenced, or disguised with euphemisms, that underlie the alleged right to die.
Euthanasia Is Not a Right
Common sense indicates that a claim about a right expresses an idea of justice linked to a moral good. Law and regulatory bodies protect all kinds of goods, and life is one of them. That is why there are countries that, in addition to logically prohibiting homicide, also have laws prohibiting suicide.
Life is a personal good and being legally protected means people have the right to life. In contrast, even though there are laws that justify death, they will be unjust.
The right to die or to take one’s own life contains an act of unjust self-determination that must be prohibited. Allowing euthanasia would shake the foundations of the rule of law, and a state that legitimizes the legal demand of those who decide to end their own lives, would dehumanize individuals, who are the basis of a state’s existence.
The demand for euthanasia hides a social issue, which is pain. Laws should attack the cause of the evil [i.e., pain] that shadows the clamor for euthanasia. By legitimizing, allowing, or converting euthanasia into legally enforceable conduct, states would be opting for the easy way out, but not in the way that protects the person and the value of human dignity.
The preamble to the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man states that “All men are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It is indisputable that dignity is an equal attribute of all human beings. However, in applying dignity, certain inaccuracies are often justified to sustain unjust claims.
Currently, society has blurred this clear idea that every person has human dignity due to his mere condition of being human. On the contrary, some associate human dignity with concepts such as the capacity for self-determination and the ability to produce economically, among others.
Thus, an underlying idea is established: There are citizens or people of a lower category who, as soon as they demand their own death (due to a false conception of themselves), do not find any help in the system that makes them realize that their misconception is false. On the contrary, they find facilitators of suicide that end up further exacerbating the anguish of their last days.
In 2020, 7,595 euthanasias were performed in Canada. People were asked for their reasons for requesting it and the answers were as follows: Loss of ability to participate in meaningful activities (84.9%); loss of ability to perform activities of daily living (81.7%); inadequate pain control (or worry) (57.4%). Loss of dignity (53.9%); inadequate control of symptoms other than pain (or worry) (50.6%). The perceived burden on family, friends, or caregivers (35.9%). Loss of control of bodily functions (33.1%); emotional distress/anxiety/fear/existential suffering (5.6%); poverty/loss of quality of life (3.1%). Loss of control/autonomy/independence (1.9%); other (1.0%).
Euthanasia can never be a dignified death because it implies ignoring the actual needs of the people who request it. Giving that response to a patient who does not value his life is a sign of disinterest in human dignity and his own person. Thus, the very value of human beings, the basis of society and of the rule of law, is undermined.
Break Down of Human Relationships
When a person finds himself going through physical and moral pain, and to this is added the feeling of being a burden for the family, he glimpses, through his death, a supposed relief for the family. However, this idea is wrong because, as we saw earlier, it undermines human dignity and the inherent societal duty of solidarity, which is the basis of the rule of law.
When the suffering person is offered the possibility of euthanasia, it ends up breaking and poisoning family ties. For the person who suffers and is suffering the last days of his life, the family should be where he finds accompaniment, comfort for his ailments, and appreciation of himself and everything he has done in his life. Instead, with the offer of euthanasia, he finds the opposite there. Thus, the person becomes more anguished by verifying his supposed disvalue, and his end becomes even more tortuous. On top of this, if we add legislation that allows and promotes euthanasia, it does nothing more than promote an unfair and ungrateful action towards that person and cooperates with evil.
Human relationships and solidarity promote and sustain society. If the law, instead of enabling this solidarity, facilitates everything to promote absolute individualism, it will generate the appropriate conditions for the law’s own elimination.
Economic Aspect of Euthanasia
Another reality, which is the least visualized in the promotion of euthanasia laws, is the economic aspect. The expense associated with maintaining a terminally ill patient or with palliative care implies for the public or private system, compared to the costs of euthanasia, is unmatched. Yet, no bill or enacted law explicitly states this fact because would undermine the supposedly humanitarian basis supporting euthanasia’s promotion.
In this context, some also maintain that euthanasia laws protect the patient from supposed therapeutic cruelty. But in countries like Argentina, where access to the health system is so unequal and often lacks the most basic supplies, for the health system to say that it uses euthanasia against a supposed and non-existent therapeutic cruelty is illogical because it does not exist. This reality is similar in all Latin American countries.
The Legalization of Euthanasia Increases Suicide Rates
A recent study published by The Anscombe Bioethics Centre demonstrates with empirical evidence that the legalization of euthanasia or assisted suicide could encourage unassisted suicide.
There are certain proponents of the legalization of euthanasia or assisted suicide who argue that the legalization of euthanasia or assisted suicide could help the terminally ill who die by unassisted suicide. Also, they propose that terminally ill people, having the security of “knowing that they had the option of resorting to euthanasia,” could help them live with more peace of mind until their natural death.
However, several studies have found that the legalization of these practices concurs in the following:
- Rates of euthanasia or assisted suicide (EAS) increase significantly.
- Rates of self-initiated deaths . . . . increase significantly.
- The increase in self-initiated death is disproportionately high in women.
- Unassisted suicide rates are also increasing, in some cases significantly.
No study has found a reduction in unassisted suicide. The available evidence points in the same direction. Legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide does more harm than good and threatens suicide prevention.
Recent Impact on Latin America: