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Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Euthanasia and Autism

 In The Politics of Autism, I write about the dangers of eugenics and euthanasia

\An earlier post described euthanasia in the Netherlands. Some autistic people there have undergone euthanasia because they said they could not lead normal lives.  At NRO, Wesley Smith discusses an AP story on the study:

I never understand why people are surprised by these kinds of horror stories. Once a society decides that killing is an acceptable answer to suffering, what constitutes suffering sufficient to be made dead becomes highly elastic and stretches over time. This can even include loneliness, as I have written about before. The story describes the phenomenon:
Many of the patients cited different combinations of mental problems, physical ailments, diseases or aging-related difficulties as reasons for seeking euthanasia. Thirty included being lonely as one the causes of their unbearable pain. Eight said the only causes of their suffering were factors linked to their intellectual disability or autism — social isolation, a lack of coping strategies or an inability to adjust their thinking.
The unintended cruelty of euthanasia is becoming increasingly clear:
Dr. Bram Sizoo, a Dutch psychiatrist, was disturbed that young people with autism viewed euthanasia as a viable solution.

“Some of them are almost excited at the prospect of death,” Sizoo said. “They think this will be the end of their problems and the end of their family’s problems.” . . .

Tim Stainton, director of the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship at the University of British Columbia, wonders if the same thing is happening in Canada, which arguably has the world’s most permissive euthanasia laws and which doesn’t keep the kinds of records that the Netherlands does.

“Helping people with autism and intellectual disabilities to die is essentially eugenics,” Stainton said.
Indeed. Now, add in the prospect of organ harvesting as a benefit to society and the acute danger to the vulnerable who can come — or be made — to think that their deaths will have greater value than their lives comes vividly into focus.