Some readers may be familiar with P.D. James's dystopian future novel The Children of Men. It is a bit too dark and bitter for me to have been exactly fond of it, but it is undeniably powerful, and several aspects of it have stuck with me. One of these is the quietus. The quietus is euthanasia by the state, carried out on the willing or unwilling elderly. In the novel, the protagonist has a conversation with an old professor whose wife has dementia. The professor tells him a transparent lie to the effect that his wife (who isn't talking at all anymore) has been talking a lot about the quietus lately. Later, the protagonist stumbles upon the bit of seashore where the elderly are being drowned en masse and witnesses her murder.
And now, activists in the Netherlands are "investigating the feasibility" of a new suicide clinic at which they will kill, among others, people with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. They call this "assisting" people who "wish to die," but the open statement that the people "assisted" will have dementia and Alzheimer's raises the obvious question of how they can be taken to be giving rational, informed consent to their deaths.
I expect that my usual liberal time-wasters will come into the thread and tell me that people in the early stages of these problems can still give informed consent. To tell you the truth, I'm not really interested in what the liberal time-wasters among my commentators have to say. They'd find something to say no matter what, and I'm not minded to have my time wasted by them. (I would note that these are the same people who are furiously indignant at any suggestion that liberal doctrines could justify pedophilia, yet it seems like a more plausible case could be made for intelligent, rational "consent" by a healthy, normal ten-year-old child than by an elderly person with dementia.) I admit, moreover, that I am totally opposed to assisted suicide even for people with PhD's and all their faculties.
I am, however, interested in the "choice devours itself" phenomenon in which we start out by talking about choice and freedom--especially, as I often say, in the twin areas of sex and death--and end by justifying coercion, the use of deadly force against the vulnerable, and various other actions obviously entirely inconsistent with choice and freedom in these very realms. So, we started by talking about "rational suicide" and now are talking about "helping" people with dementia to die. If that doesn't creep you out, you have done something bad to your creep-o-meter.
Related: The phenomenon of murder-suicide for couples in which one member of the pair has Alzheimer's.
HT: Secondhand Smoke