Set off by British criminal cases of two mothers killing their children--one in a persistent vegetative state, the other requesting assisted suicide--novelist and former barrister MR Hall is musing provocatively in the Guardian. He suggests these cases reveal a larger trend:
We've come to pity the carer--the poor person whose life and chances have been sacrificed to the needs of another whose degraded existence will never amount to anything anyway--over the cared-for.
Hall also sees this dynamic in the trend of suggesting that women pregnant with Down's syndrome fetuses get an abortion. How did this happen? The lack of an "absolute imperative to preserve life" fostered by religion has made it "easy to accept" that there are lives not worth living.
Then, "once the value of life is placed on a sliding scale, it's a very short hop to saying that there is no right to life beneath a certain threshold, especially when one's continued respiration becomes a heavy burden on others." Ultimately, it's about "creeping expediency."
Have we come to pity the caregiver more than the cared-for, the nurse more than the patient?