, ,



The passing of a law by the Belgian parliament which allows the euthanasia of children at any age is a chilling moment. We are promised it will have many safeguards; we know from our own experience of the abortion law what they will be worth – nothing.

No one with any experience of seriously ill people is under any illusion about how intense the suffering can be, or of the temptation to end it all. But, thus far in the UK, if you manage to make to out of the womb, the government cannot end your life, or allow others so to do. This changes that situation. It does so, as did the change in the abortion laws, in the name of humanity: who would not want to help someone who was suffering? But nothing is more obvious than what begins with the best of motives becomes the norm, and safeguards go. We were told back in the 1960s that we did not have abortion on demand; now we have it. Abortion was supposed to be something which required a strong medical case, but has become something which happens when requested; this law will follow that well-worn path.

What it says about Western societies ought to worry us, as we are all human. At what point is it going to be the case that grandma can be given euthanasia because her quality of life isn’t very high? Who makes that judgment? No doubt such decisions will never be made on the basis that it would be handy to get grandma’s house on the market, because, of course, we are not like that. Except, of course, that is precisely what we are like – selfish, solipsistic and self-centred, others easily become bit part players in our psychodrama, with that unholy Trinity, me, myself and I as the star.

One of the better things Christianity does for us is to require us to treat others as we would want to be treated, it requires us to love our neighbours as ourselves, and it asks us to care for those less fortunate than we are, reminding us that we are all children of the living God. It calls us to a humility which is not natural. Like Adam, we want to be God, we want to make decisions over life and death, and we have become so clever we can do so; but cleverness is not the same as wisdom. Our capacities have long ago exceeded our wisdom, and the steps we take along roads untrodden lead to places we cannot know.

A staple of dystopian novels has become part of real Iife in Holland and Belgium. The medics can now help us to know who should live and who should die. How wise we think we are – and how foolish we are. There is a petition which people can sign, asking the Belgian King to refuse to sign the bill into law. I have signed it. It will be of no use. At best he will do what his uncle did and abdicate for a day or two before coming back. Against this Moloch it seems no one can stand. I do not expect that the UN, which is so concerned when children are mistreated by the Catholic Church, will utter a word when Belgium decides it is OK to kill them. I wonder what dehumanising word will be applied to such unfortunates?