Euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, Holland and Belgium, as well as a growing number of U.S. states, including California, Colorado and most recently Maine, whose governor signed the Death With Dignity Act last week. New medical guidance in Canada, where the practice has been legal for three years for terminally ill patients, hints at the monstrous ways assisted suicide might be expanded in the coming years.
About 30 euthanasia patients in Canada have donated their organs after death since 2016. On June 3 the Canadian Medical Association issued guidelines for how the process should work. The grim document describes how the organ donation and euthanasia decisions might be disentangled, but allows doctors to raise the possibility of organ donation with assisted-suicide patients. It also clarifies that organ removal should not begin until the patient is medically deceased and the heart has stopped beating.
But some experts quarrel with this restriction. Last year in a New England Journal of Medicine article, two Canadian medical researchers and a Harvard bioethicist argued that it could reduce the quality of donated organs. A superior model, they suggest, could be to kill the patient by removing his organs. After all, the best organs come from live people, like those who donate one of their kidneys.
Organs can be “compromised” if doctors have to wait until death—meaning minutes after the pulse has stopped. Even a gap of a few minutes between removal and transfer makes a difference. Organs would be in better shape if they were removed while the heart is still beating. Death by organ removal would be a more efficient method of organ harvesting for assisted-suicide patients.
This is more than a little ghoulish, and the New England Journal of Medicine authors admit some patients won’t want the organ harvesting to begin until they are dead. Others, they note hopefully, “may want not only a rapid, peaceful, and painless death, but also the option of donating as many organs as possible and in the best condition possible.”
Read more at the Wall Street Journal…