Wesley J. Smith: Euthanasia for Alzheimer’s Patients?

Elderly Patient1

(First Things) – The medically vulnerable have rarely been in greater jeopardy. Alzheimer’s disease patients are at particular risk. In a recent poll from Quebec—where lethal-injection euthanasia is legal—a chilling 72 percent of caregivers favor permitting Alzheimer’s patients to be euthanized, even if the afflicted person never requested euthanasia. If the patient requested euthanasia in writing upon becoming incompetent, the percentage of caregivers approving is a horrific 91 percent.

Both scenarios are against the law, though perhaps not for long. With lethal-injection euthanasia now legal throughout Canada, predictable efforts are under way to permit patients to create binding written orders to have themselves killed if they lose mental capacity.

This approach is already legal in the Netherlands and Belgium, two countries that seem to be competing with each other to craft the most radical euthanasia policies. What if the Alzheimer’s patient, having lost the ability to make his own decisions, is not suffering terribly after all? Tough. His former desire is deemed controlling over his current state of happiness. Indeed, in an awful case from the Netherlands, a struggling elderly Alzheimer’s patient was held down by her family as she fought against being lethally injected. Dutch authorities determined that the homicide was permissible, since “the doctor acted in good faith.” CONTINUE