Belgium continues its way down slippery euthanasia slope

Well that didn’t take long. Two years after Belgium passed a law legalizing euthanasia for minors, a 17-year-old opted to commit doctor-assisted suicide.

No details were released about the specifics of the situation, but I think we all can agree that any 17-year-old opting to choose death over life deserves our fervent pity and prayers.

Belgium first legalized euthanasia in 2002, and between 2003 and 2013, the number of physician-assisted suicides totaled 8,752, Reuters reports, with a steady increase every year. And those are just the cases we know about.

That’s not the only number that’s growing. Eight countries around the world have legalized either euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have legalized them both. Recent media reports out of the Netherlands are stating that country, too, is looking to legalize physician-assisted suicide for minors.

The situation is just as perilous closer to home. After Canada legalized physician-assisted suicide this past June, W.P. Kinsella, author of the 1982 novel “Shoeless Joe” that inspired the hit movie “Field of Dreams,” opted to kill himself Sept. 16. He was 81.

In the United States, California’s new law went into effect in June. This November, the choice goes to Colorado voters after proponents of the “medical aid in dying initiative” gathered enough signatures of registered voters to put it on the ballot.

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Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont already allow some type of physician-assisted suicide. Nearly 20 other states saw action on some type of similar legislation this year, and although no others made it out of committee, there’s no doubt that the physician-assisted suicide movement is picking up steam.

Ironically and unfortunately, much of the debate around physician-assisted suicide/euthanasia involves a contorted concept surrounding “death with dignity” and “mercy.” As with so many other hot-button issues, from gay marriage to contraception to transgender issues, Catholics speaking out find themselves in a position where their deeply held beliefs are perceived to be at odds with justice and the good of humanity. Physician-assisted suicide is the compassionate choice, proponents say. Catholics, though, recognize that no one but God has the right to decide the timing of death.

Countering the “mercy” narrative is a new film, “The Euthanasia Deception,” produced by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition in association with DunnMedia. The hourlong documentary seeks to dispel three main deceptions of physician-assisted suicide: that it is a form of compassion; that decisions are autonomous; and that government safeguards really are able to protect the vulnerable. To view the film, go to vulnerablefilm.com.

This is one of the critical issues of our time. We should not be silent.