Tim Stanley reflects on the meaning of the euthanasia of Nathan Verhelst, a Belgian transsexual who chose to have a physician kill him after he found living with the results of his sex change unbearable. Huge numbers of Belgians not only favor euthanasia, but support expanding it. For example, three-quarters of Belgians support involuntary euthanasia for terminally ill children. (From that last link, which features quotes from Nathan Verhelst’s monstrous mother, it’s terrifying to think of what uncaring parents will inflict on their children). Overall euthanasia deaths are fast-rising in that country. Here’s Stanley:

If you find that troubling, compare it with what’s happening in the Netherlands. There, 1 in 30 deaths are now assisted. A private charity operates mobile euthanasia units, which travel from one care home to another – door-to-door – to help anyone to die who has been denied the opportunity by a doctor. They only visit each home once a week to relieve the potential psychological burden – but it must still be quite a shock when a group of smiling nurses turn up at your door and politely ask if you’d like to die today.

What science fiction writers of the past imagined as a fantastical reflection on the lack of humanity of their contemporary society has become concrete reality in ours. If you want, we can now kill you in an afternoon. Belgium and the Netherlands list “death” among their accepted forms of medical therapy, performed with a chilling bureaucratic efficiency that has the effect of making it all appear perfectly normal and entirely routine. What was once forced upon people by authoritarian regimes is now becoming vogue by means of the ballot box. Societies are shuffling towards a culture of death. Willingly.