One question I’d like to discuss with Rob Horn is what role did the attitudes around him play in his decision. Perhaps he doesn’t know because he stresses so much the role of the attitude of the afflicted on decision making. I think in pondering the situation, Rob — careful, analytical thinker that he is would have come to this conclusion: “I made my choice based on a number of things but probably underlying them all was the reality that no one around me thought I had a life not worthy to be lived.”
So, you who read this book who have cognitive skills and are of sound body consider carefully your attitude about those whom you call the disabled. Do they detect by your words, your deeds, innuendo, overheard conversation, body language, that you have concluded their lives are not worthy to be lived?
This attitude is responsible for such an enormity of social ills. Expressed before WWII probably first by Binding and Hoche — a physician and a jurist in Germany — led to the progressive destruction of defective babies, the mentally ill, those with tuberculosis, those with incurable diseases, and eventually even amputees of WWI who were no longer useful to the Reich. All because they had, in the minds of Binding and Hoche, lives individually and collectively not worthy to be lived. It is probable that from these small beginnings came the Holocaust.
The attitude — of life not worth living — led to the Eugenics Movement in the United States in days gone by, fueled the early interests in physician assisted suicide, and led to the support of euthanasia, and it certainly led to the sad state of affairs in the Netherlands in regards to euthanasia during the last decade or more. When the frail, the infirm, the disabled, the chronically ill realize that those around them think their lives are not worth living, then they become depressed, think of suicide, assisted suicide and euthanasia. None of these remarks are to be construed as taking anything away from Rob Horn’s decision. He remains the most courageous person I have ever known.
I wish everyone who contemplates a decision such as Rob had to make would read this book; even more, I wish physicians ready with the easiest and quickest way out would be compelled to read it. Had I put this book together I would not have included a chapter by Derek Humphrey whose requirements for a life worth living are inordinately high and one whose defeatist attitude is so far from being uplifting. The fact that such a chapter is here is one more tribute to Rob Horn and his fairness and his deep understanding of choice.
My prayer for you, Rob, is that you will have the faith and courage to sustain you, that your family and close friends know in some way that they are contributing to so many who have accomplished what they thought was impossible because of your example.
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