Michael Caine's "Euthanasia
Memory" Actually Tells Hard Truths Against Prescribed Death
Part Four of Four
Wesley J. Smith
Editor's note. This first appeared
Back in 1955, Michael Caine the actor
says, he asked a doctor to kill his dying father. That may or may not have
happened. And somehow, this 55 year-old event is supposed to promote
voluntary euthanasia? From the story [www.scotsman.com/news/Michael-Caine-I-asked-doctor.6573008.jp]
R Michael Caine has revealed how he
asked a doctor to help his terminally ill father to die. Maurice Micklewhite,
a Billingsgate fish market porter, died in hospital at the age of 56 in 1955
after suffering from liver cancer. In a radio interview to be broadcast on
Classic FM this evening Sir Michael says: "My father had cancer of the liver
and I was in such anguish over the pain he was in, that I said to this
doctor, I said 'Isn't there anything else you could (do], just give him an
overdose and end this', because I wanted him to go and he said 'Oh no, no,
no, we couldn't do that.'
"As I was leaving, he said 'Come back
at midnight'. I came back at midnight and my father died at five past 12. So
he'd done it." Sir Michael said his father had been given just three to four
days to live when he asked the doctor to perform the mercy killing…Asked if
he agreed with voluntary euthanasia, Sir Michael, 77, said: "Oh I think so,
yeah. I think if you're in a state to where life is no longer bearable, if
you want to go. I'm not saying that anyone else should make the decision,
but I made the request, but my father was semi-conscious."
I'm not saying others should make the
choice, but I made the choice? I still don't understand why we care so much
about what actors say regarding public policy issues.
But that point aside, this story
reveals what happens when doctor administered death is deemed an acceptable
answer to human suffering. Here are some thoughts:
The event occurred long before the
modern hospice movement transformed end of life care. Today, nobody
should be allowed to die writhing in bed from metastatic cancer. Hence,
assuming proper care, there would be no reason for an anguished son to
beg a doctor to end it all.
This was not a case of voluntary
euthanasia. There is no indication that Caine's father wanted to be
If the father was killed, he was put
out of Caine's misery.
Euthanasia/assisted suicide isn't
about ending the lives of people who have a day or so left to live. That
is just the sales puffery.
The reality of euthanasia/assisted
suicide is quite to the contrary. In the Netherlands, Belgium, and
Switzerland, many people receive prescribed death who are not terminally
ill, and indeed, the person terminated might not even be sick. This is
also true here in the USA. For example most of Kevorkian's assisted
suicides were not terminally ill and five were found not to even be sick
at their autopsies. Ditto the traveling suicide clinics run by Final
Exit Network. Ditto, Philip Nitschke's advocacy and some deaths in which
he was involved in Australia (e.g., Nancy Crick). Even in Oregon, lethal
prescriptions are often written for patients based on the patients'
fears of being a burden, losing dignity, etc., in other words
existential issues–that are important to address, but which have nothing
to do with dying in unrelieved agony.
Of course, euthanasia promoters
welcomed Caine's comment:
Last night a spokeswoman for Dignity
in Dying, a charity campaigning for the legalisation of assisted suicide and
assisted dying, welcomed Sir Michael's confession and called for new
measures to allow doctors to help terminally patients die, if it is they so
wish. "It is unimaginably difficult to watch a loved one suffer against
their wishes at the end of their life."
The real lesson of this incident
clearly escapes the ideologues of doctor-administered death. But the rest of
us should need to understand. And learn.