Euthanasia has recently been legalized in Spain and this Thursday the French Assembly is examining a bill to also regulate the deaths caused by sick people. The offensive is underway in many countries but despite this there are voices that continue to rise before an atrocious practice. They are religious people, but also agnostics or atheists, doctors, patients, lawyers and also intellectuals …
One of those who has just been most forceful against euthanasia is the controversial French writer Michel Houellebecq, who in a gallery in Le Figaro talks about the French bill and assures that “a civilization that legalizes euthanasia loses all right to I respect”.
Houellebecq is a character that leaves no one indifferent neither in France nor in the rest of the world. His novels, among which Submission or The Elementary Particles stand out, have had as many sales as attacks. He must go with an escort for denouncing Islamism that is gaining strength in Europe, but he also openly affirms that although he does not have faith and experiences great contradictions in his life, it will be the resurgence of Catholicism that will save France.
With regard to euthanasia, the French writer states in his writing that “it represents an unprecedented anthropological rupture” and a “matter of life and death”, so that with his peculiar way of expressing himself he explains why he fiercely opposes it.
But starting from the end of his article, it is important to note that a character like Houellebecq affirms the following forcefully: “Here I will have to be very explicit: when a country – a society, a civilization – comes to legalize euthanasia, it loses in my eyes all right to respect. Therefore, it is not only legitimate, but desirable, to destroy it; so that something else, another country, another society, another civilization, have the opportunity to happen ”.
In order to show his argumentation, this writer makes three brief proposals to introduce his opposition to euthanasia.
First of all he remembers that “nobody wants to die. We generally prefer a diminished life to no life; because there are still small joys. Isn’t life, almost by definition, a waning process anyway? And are there joys in addition to the little joys? ”.
His second proposition is that “nobody wants to suffer, that is, to suffer physically.” This agnostic intellectual affirms that “moral suffering has its charms, we can even turn it into an aesthetic material (and I have not deprived myself of it). Physical suffering is nothing more than a pure hell, devoid of interest and meaning, from which no lesson can be learned ”.
But this is linked to his third proposition, “the most important”, and that is that suffering can be eliminated. And for this he speaks, for example, of the discovery of morphine. He does not speak, however, of the vital importance of palliative care in reducing the terrible suffering and pain of the terminally ill.
However, where Houllebecq wanted to get to was the fact that by omitting these three proposals and not being aware of them, the polls in favor of euthanasia can be understood, where supposedly an overwhelming majority is in favor.
“96% of people understand that they are asked this question: ‘Would you rather they help you die or spend the rest of your life in terrible suffering?’” He explains.
For this reason, Michel Houellebecq points out that “supporters of euthanasia fill their mouths with words whose meaning they misrepresent to such an extent that they should not even have the right to pronounce them. In the case of ‘compassion’, the deception is obvious. When it comes to ‘dignity’, it’s more insidious. We have clearly departed from the Kantian definition of dignity, gradually substituting the moral being for the physical being (even denying the concept of ‘moral being’) and substituting the specifically human capacity to act in obedience to the categorical imperative, for the concept, more animal and flatter, of a state of health, which has become a kind of condition of possibility for human dignity and has ended up representing its only authentic meaning ”.
In his opinion, one of the most common tricks to defend euthanasia in France, although it is also valid in the case of Spain or another state, is that it is “behind” with respect to other countries. “Looking for the countries in relation to which France would be ‘behind’, only Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are found; I’m really not impressed, ”he says.
Continuing with his argument, Houellebecq explains that the French law explanatory memorandum is full of quotes from Anne Bert, a French writer who went to Belgium for euthanasia, which has “aroused suspicion” in him.
“When she says: ‘No, euthanasia is not eugenics’; It is clear, however, that his supporters, from the ‘divine’ Plato to the Nazis, are exactly the same. Similarly, when he continues: ‘No, the Belgian law on euthanasia has not encouraged inheritance plunder’; I confess that he had not thought about it, but now that she mentions it… ”, affirms the writer.
But Anne Bert also argued that “euthanasia is not an economic solution.” However, there are undoubtedly some sordid arguments that we only find among ‘economists’, if the term has any meaning at all. ” It was Jacques Attali who insisted a lot, in an old book, on the cost to the community of keeping the elderly alive ”.
In his opinion, “Catholics will hold out as best they can, but unfortunately, we have become more or less used to Catholics always losing. Muslims and Jews think on this subject, as on many other so-called ‘social issues, exactly the same as Catholics; the media generally does a good job of covering it up. I do not have many illusions, these confessions will eventually fold, submitting to the yoke of ‘republican law’; their priests, rabbis or imams will accompany the future euthanized, telling them that it is not so terrible and that tomorrow will be better, and that even if men abandon them, God will take care of them. Let’s admit it ”.
Finally, Michel Houellebecq affirms that “there are doctors left”, of whom he confesses that he did not have much hope “because he knew us well”. But it is “undeniable,” he adds, “that some of them resist, stubbornly refuse to kill their patients, and could remain the last barrier. I do not know where they get that courage, perhaps it is respect for the Hippocratic oath: “I will not give poison to anyone, even if they ask me, nor will I suggest such use.” It’s possible; it must have been an important moment in their lives, the public pronouncement of this oath. In any case, it is a beautiful fight, even if one has the impression that it is a fight “for honor”. It is not exactly nothing, the honor of a civilization; but something else is at stake, at an anthropological level it is a matter of life and death ”.