Really near you, and near your children and grandchildren. Britain’s NHS provides “cash payments,” according to this article in the Daily Mail, to hospitals if they meet “targets” for shunting their patients off the take-care-of-them track and onto the let-them-die track.
The problem, of course, is that doctors don’t really know how near death someone really is. Not even a new-born baby. So that when the nice doctor in the white coat assures you that It’s All For the Best and you need to Put Your Baby Out of Its (and Your) Misery, about half the time your baby will die within ten days. And about half the time your baby will linger, enduring “severe dehydration,” for more than ten days.
Once upon a time I could have read this article and just been outraged by it. I mean, you take a mother (and father, although that’s not even always the case these days) who’ve just gone through up to nine months of pregnancy, the physical pain of childbirth, and the massive hormonal changes that occur in the mother’s body in consequence of all of that, and you introduce an authority figure — a gentle-voiced doctor in a nice white coat — who presents himself in the mantle of the Man of Science, the trained care-giver, and who is, it also happens, being paid cash to convince them that her baby needs to die. Gee whiz, what could go wrong with that situation? So a number of years ago I could have read that and merely seethed.
But now that I’ve got three wonderful boys of my own, I can’t read an article like this without sensations of physical illness. With the advent of in utero genetic testing, what other monstrosities lie just below the horizon? “You know, Mrs. Murgatroyd, your son is going to be at least to some extent autistic. He’s going to go through life with no friends, constantly overwhelmed by the daily sensations of ordinary life. If he’s really, really fortunate he’ll be able to find himself some group home. He’s never going to have a normal life. This is really for the best. You’re doing him a favor.”
George Will has a son with Down’s Syndrome. I can’t remember exactly what his fist name is; I think it’s something like John. A number of years ago Will wrote a column, which I failed to save, asking the question, “Why do people hate John?” He was talking about the push to have certain forms of testing done even for normal, non-problem pregnancies. It just so happens that those tests will also reveal whether the child is positive for Down’s. As Will correctly pointed out, the whole point of encouraging medically unnecessary testing, the only material outcome of which would be Knowledge, is to encourage people to abort children like his son. And ol’ Geo. Will, bless his heart, has a problem with that. He talked a bit about his son, and how he lives in his own apartment, likes to go to baseball games, and generally is a loving, enjoyable, and enjoying human. Around the little town where I live there are several people who are fairly obviously laboring under various mental handicaps, but who hold down jobs. They’re productive, honest, hard-working members of society.
And in Britain, at least, the hospital gets a cash payment — blood money if ever there were such — to kill people like George Will’s son, and that guy bagging my groceries or bussing the tables, before they . . . you know, Get in Our Way.
Fortunately, something like can’t happen here.
If you think that, keep on comforting yourself with the thought. I’m sure countless thousands of Germans assured themselves that the horrors of the Soviet Union could never happen in their hyper-educated, deeply-cultured country. Keep on thinking that, if it pacifies you.