I've debated a number of pro-euthanasia advocates over the past few years. Some advocate publicly for a very narrow criteria that limits access to euthanasia to a few; while others advocate for an almost 'open slather' approach.
Recently, in a series on euthanasia for the CNN network, Dr Nitschke welcomed the Belgian debate on euthanasia for minors and for Alzheimer's sufferers - people for whom 'capacity' to decide (give consent) is either absent or diminished. This from the article:
So too is the wish not to waste government money keeping the demented elderly alive in the nation's care homes if that is not how, when they could communicate, they said they wanted to spend their last days.
On the topic of children, the debate is a little easier. Some children do develop terminal illnesses and do die well before their time. It is not impossible for such young people to have a well-developed sense of their own mortality.
I've commented in debates and on this blog that a total 'open slather' approach is the only truly logical paradigm; anything less could be seen as somewhat discriminatory. And I've asked the question: if a bill, say, to provide limited access to only the terminally ill were to pass, would the pro-euthanasia advocates pack up and go home? The answer is, no. One only need to look at Belgium and Holland where pro-euthanasia groups advocating for different models and extensions have actually grown in number over the last decade.
So the rhetoric about ONLY wanting one model or another is really more about sounding moderate and looking for the 'line of least resistance' in terms of gaining votes in a parliament than it is about some 'hand-on-the-heart' genuine limit (although I have met some activists who I would say were genuine about their stated limit).
Wesley Smith has set the scene well in this post from his Human Exceptionalism blog:
Euthanasia isn’t about using medical means to end suffering. Rather, activists ultimately believe that there is a fundamental right to suicide, including using any method the self-destructive person desires to exercise the choice to end all choices.
Suicide activists, most of whom are not known for their candor, seek to shield their ultimate agenda by harnessing the authority of doctors in the killing decision. Also, requiring at least some physician involvement gives false assurance to a wary public that there will be limits and control.
But after years of grappling with this issue, I am convinced that the “medical model” as it is sometimes called, is merely a way station on the way to something even more radical–any adult being able to assist any (adult) suicide, for any reason.
Evidence for this can be found in the Netherlands, which has a very few functional limits on euthanasia. There is one restraint that is enforced: Only doctors can kill.
That’s too much for Netherlands Right to Die (NVVE). It is agitating for a complete decriminalization of assisted suicide. From the Relevant Magazine of Right to Die-NL (NVVE) Volume 39, nr. 4, October 2013:
September 2, one day before the process against Albert Heringa, the campaign ‘Assisting is no crime’ has started in The Hague. NVVE members came together to discuss the strategy of this day: how to coordinate this day’s demonstration ‘Assisting is no crime’ on the square, right before the building of the Lower Chamber; and how to bring the debate later on to the members of the Lower Chamber.
An elderly couple complains that their doctor will not perform a joint euthanasia–(as is now being done in Belgium), and thus they want open access to suicide drugs (Drion):
From all over the country NVVE members took part in the demonstration…A married couple of 80 years tells why they are here. ‘We have been waiting for the ‘Pill of Drion’ – in vain. Our general practitioner has been retired and the new physician does not want to cooperate with euthanasia.
At-will assisted suicide. The death zealots will never be satisfied until they reach their ultimate objective.