“Better Off Dead”

In The Hastings Center Report, two bio”ethicists” (Hilde Lindemann and Marian Verkerk–hard to wonder, isn’t it, if these two women are abortion supporters; my money is on “are”) say, “What’s wrong with killing a newborn if it’s not going to live very long or very well?” Their report is called “Ending the Life of a Newborn.” [The report on the report is here.]

As the authors explain, there are three classes of newborns that can be euthanized under the Groningen Protocol [the Dutch document justifying infant euthanasia], including: 1) Those who have no chance of survival, 2) those who “may survive after a period of intensive treatment but expectations for their future are very grim;” and 3) those “who do not depend on technology for physiologic stability and whose suffering is severe, sustained, and cannot be alleviated.”

“No chance for survival”? There’s an open-ended opportunity for less ethically minded physicians and parents, if I’ve ever seen one. And what, exactly, does it mean to say that some children have “grim” “expectations for their future”? Sure, you can think of some examples, but maybe your examples aren’t the same as the Dutch examples. Maybe some people think that a cleft palate means a grim expectation for the future. Or, more easily imagined, Down’s Syndrome or, as the article points out, Spina Bifida. When it comes down to it, the reasons for not allowing an infant to live can very often be justified more easily than allowing the child to live.

Why? Because, frankly, doing the hard thing is, well, hard. And sometimes there’s no way around it. The idiot who first called parents “courageous” for taking the easy way out is to be commended for his or her complete reversal of even common sense ethics. Of course, when your ethics change as often as I change my son’s diaper, what can one expect?

In fact, the pair suggests, there are some babies who are born with painful abnormalities that, if allowed to live, would live well into adulthood – but they are the ones who should be euthanized. In these cases “the baby is judged to be better off dead than forced to endure the only kind of life it can ever have.”


“The whole point of the protocol is to help physicians end the lives of newborns who are so severely afflicted that neither their dying nor their living should be prolonged. That being the case, the pertinent distinction is not between babies who will die and those who could live, but between babies for whom life-ending decisions should be made and those for whom such decisions cannot be morally justified. In bringing within its compass babies who are in no danger of dying – and, indeed, with proper care could live to adulthood – the protocol is even more radical than its critics supposed.”

What a wondrous sophistry! It’s not the ones who might die whom we’re worried about, it’s the ones who might live for a long time. Better off dead… “I want my two dollars!” God damn you, God. How can you force such a baby to live “the only kind of life it can ever have”? Nice use of the passive voice, by the way. “…the baby is judged…” “By whom” is the question immediately begged in the thought-processes of normal people. Chesterton refuses to remain unquoted here.

…there is such a thing as an atheistic literary style; that materialism may appear in the mere diction of a man, though he be speaking of clocks or cats or anything quite remote from theology. The mark of the atheistic style is that it instinctively chooses the word which suggests that things are dead things; that things have no souls. Thus they will not speak of waging war, which means willing it; they speak of the “outbreak of war,” as if all the guns blew up without the men touching them. … For instead of saying that employers pay less wages, which might pin the employers to some moral responsibility, they insist on talking about the “rise and fall” of wages; as if a vast silver sea of sixpences and shillings was always going up and down automatically like the real sea at Margate. Thus they will not speak of reform, but of development; and they spoil their one honest and virile phrase, “the class war” by talking of it as no one in his wits can talk of a war, predicting its finish and final result as one calculates the coming of Christmas Day or the taxes. Thus, lastly (as we shall see touching our special subject-matter here) the atheist style in letters always avoids talking of love or lust, which are things alive, and calls marriage or concubinage “the relations of the sexes”; as if a man and a woman were two wooden objects standing in a certain angle and attitude to each other like a table and a chair. (“The Flying Authority,” Eugenics and Other Evils)

When morality has been unhinged from any standards (presumably the answer to the “by whom” would include “a bioethicist”), phrases such as “morally justified” become unhinged from reality. Who hired these people, anyway? And who licensed them as Moral Justifiers? Almost gleefully: “even more radical than its critics supposed.”

But wait: it gets stranger:

The authors take to task those critics of the protocol who have suggested that it would be more ethical to ensure that babies with disabilities are aborted in utero, rather than killing them after they are born. “The supposedly morally superior alternative [of abortion]…does not strike us as superior at all,” they say. Instead, the authors write, the parents should wait until the child is born, when they can make a more informed decision about the chance that their child has of living a “satisfactory” life. “We join disability activists who condemn the routine recommendation of abortions performed for no other reason than to prevent the birth of an affected baby.”

Now murder outside the womb is more ethical than murder inside. But that’s what happens when one allows bioethicists to make morally justifying proclamations based on how something “strikes them.” The inversion of logic is jaw-dropping: “We join disability activists who condemn the routine recommendation of abortions performed for no other reason than to prevent the birth of an affected baby.” Yeah, that’s bad. But we’ll do you one better: kill them after they’re born instead. (Triumphantly:) How do you like that? This is the sort of addle-brained nonsense passing for “ethics” these (latter) days.

More here, by the author of the Lifesitenews piece. Which includes this:

Nowhere in The Groningen Protocol, and nowhere in Lindmann and Verkerk’s extensive study of the protocol, do the authors demand that physicians determine whether or not the newborn child is “human”. Nor do they attempt to determine of the child is a “person”. Both the humanity and personhood of the child are taken for granted. Indeed, on several occasions the authors equate the unborn child with a newborn child, and both of these with grown adults.

Hence, no matter how watertight our arguments for the humanity of the fetus or the newborn child are, they would do nothing to counteract the arguments of Lindemann and Verkerk, which are based, not upon the child’s humanity, but upon the issue of “quality of life”.

This is indeed the case. Many Christians have absorbed this way of speaking, in spite of the fact that it is diametrically opposed to the Scriptural way of speaking about life and death. The Scriptures, and so I would dare say God as well, are concerned very little with the “quality” of a life. Frankly, who cares? Quality, a slippery term at best, has no bearing on the issue at all. The only question to be answered is, does this person trust the God whom we know in Jesus Christ, or not? Will God, or will He not, allow us to be tested beyond that which we are able to bear? Is life good, and can God be trusted to decide when a life shall end? These questions do not, of course, settle the sticky issue of whether one is prolonging a life that is, for all intents and purposes, over; or, whether the life will be prematurely ended. Sometimes it is impossible to know. Regardless of the decision reached on that point, I contend that “quality of life” has no place whatsoever in a discussion of the Christian’s life or death. Leave such terms to the pagans.

Finally, there is this surreal comment by Lindemann and Verkerk:

“The protocol thus leaves room for cases in which the suffering will take place in the future.”


Once again the authors argue that the radical and far-reaching nature of the protocol is in fact a sign of its ethical superiority, saying “This forward-looking feature of the protocol is justified on the grounds that it is inhumane to keep a baby alive until it begins to experience intolerable suffering.”

So you see, the reach of the Protocol is unending. Not only does “ethics” demand that we relieve suffering in the present (i.e., kill the one who is making us suffer through these interminable ethics debates; can’t we just get on with the killing?), but we must also be free to relieve possible future suffering. And there you are. Next on the chopping block, I mean. I nominate Lindemann and Verkerk for the next cases “in which the suffering will take place in the future.” Who knows? They might suffer when they are in their eighties, and we certainly wouldn’t want that, would we? (Actually, I’m suffering under their tortured logic now. Just put me out of my misery, would you?)  At any point in any conceivable future, a person might begin “to experience intolerable suffering.”  That is the excuse (i.e., not a reason) for killing a human being now?  Sure, context is key; but pretty soon the context disappears, and all that’s left is the sheer idiocy of the statement.

Sometimes one is shocked by the brutal honesty exhibited by those who have bought fully the mindset of the Culture of Death. One should not be. The conclusions follow inexorably from the presuppositions.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. (Revelation 6:9-11, ESV)

That is the only response: how long, O Lord? We must wait a little longer. And, combined with that, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”