Regarding euthanasia, C. Everett Koop, M.D., the former
"... we must be wary of those who are too willing to end the lives
of the elderly and the ill. If we ever decide that a poor quality
of life justifies ending that life, we have taken a step down a
slippery slope that places all of us in danger. There is a difference
between allowing nature to take its course and actively assisting
death. The call for euthanasia surfaces in our society periodically,
as it is doing now under the guise of "death with dignity" or assisted
suicide. Euthanasia is a concept, it seems to me, that is in direct
conflict with a religious and ethical tradition in which the human
race is presented with " a blessing and a curse, life and death,"
and we are instructed '...therefore, to choose life." I believe
'euthanasia' lies outside the commonly held life-centered values of
the West and cannot be allowed without incurring great social and
personal tragedy. This is not merely an intellectual conundrum.
This issue involves actual human beings at risk..."
General of the United States says:
"While the terror of state-sponsored euthanasia may never grip America
as it once did Germany, it is possible that the terror of the euthanasia
ethic - tolerated by medicine and an indifferent public and practiced
by a few physicians - may grip many invisible and vulnerable Americans.
Over fifty years ago, German doctors and courts collaborated to identify
millions of people who were labeled 'devoid of value'. Some Americans are
labeled the same today: members of a racial or ethnic 'underclass', a
sidewalk screamer ... an illegal alien ... a nursing home resident with
Alzheimer's disease ... an abandoned migrant worker ... or anyone
too old or weak or poor to help himself or herself. For two millennia the
Hippocratic tradition has stood for the 'sanctity' of human life. We can
alleviate the unbearable in life better than ever before. We can do that
and not eliminate life itself. As I have said many times, medicine cannot
be both our healer and our killer."
The above quotation is taken from the book KOOP, The Memoirs
of America's Family Doctor by C. Everett Koop, M.D.,
Random House, 1991.