Monday, 12 March 2012

Not killing people - it's just so twentieth century

"It's no longer acceptable for 21st Century medicine to be governed by 20th Century attitudes to death."
I don't want to get at the speaker of these words, Mrs Jane Nicklinson, whose situation is certainly not easy. But they will be echoed by lobbiests and applauded by commentators and commenters. For in post-Christian Britain this is where we are at in the matter of ethics. It's just a little unusual to see ethical progressivism summed up in such a lapidary manner.

Globally speaking, the twentieth century was not actually marked by a great aversion to killing people, but let that pass. The real point is that a morality with a sell-by date is no morality at all. This is Why I Am A Catholic in a nutshell. Ethical progressivism abounds in the Church of England, all the way up to the top. Beware particularly of those who announce that they have the support of the Holy Spirit. It has plenty of devotees in the Catholic church too, but they don't get to vote on the Magisterium - and the Pope is an impassioned enemy of relativism.

This morning the link from the BBC home page referred, give or take a word or two, to Mr Nicklinson as "a man who is so paralysed that he wants a doctor to be able to lawfully end his life". There's the measure of how far down the slippery slope we've gone. If A, then B. If you're sufficiently incapacitated, naturally you'll want your life ended. These things are never just private lifestyle choices. Once we have accepted it as a valid choice, imperceptibly we slip into the expectation that others in the same situation will make the same choice, and we become a little less interested in finding ways in which such a life can be made more bearable.

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