In the week before Easter, Life Institute (for which I am a spokeswoman) launched a campaign seeking to ensure older people would not be denied life-saving care in this crisis, because decisions regarding the allocation of critical care should never be based solely on age. Events since then have given fresh urgency to the initiative.
In a culture that elevates transient pleasure as a “value,” while reducing “value” itself to a subjective and utilitarian status, I suppose it should not be surprising that the worth of human beings is now constantly in question. We once lived in a culture that drafted laws to protect “dependents”: the very young, the very old, and the disabled. This was done in recognition of the fact that a human being’s increased vulnerability correspondingly heightens our moral responsibility to that human being.
In recent times there have been numerous attempts to encourage the legalisation of euthanasia in a number of EU countries. Various emotive arguments are being used in an attempt to railroad this most murderous and undignified process into our culture and into our public hospitals. In Italy, not long after the death of Piergiorgio Welby, another high profile euthanasia case came to light. On this occasion a fifty-three-year-old man suffering from muscular dystrophy, Giovanni Muvoli, has requested that the Italian State allow him assistance to end his own life. His wife threatened that if the State doesní’t intervene she will take him out of hospital and to another country where euthanasia can be legally performed, such as Switzerland or the Netherlands. Of course this has followed on from the Welbycase. There is no law in Italy facilitating euthanasia, leading the courts to reject Welby’s request. Despite this, his doctor took the law into his own hands and disconnected his respirator.