The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's website has a section on the Nazi Persecution of the Disabled, including the origins of the Nazi T4 Euthanasia Program.
The T4 Euthanasia Program had its roots in Hitler's drive to develop a "master race" out of a "biologically pure" Aryan population. The forced sterilization of those suffering from hereditary disease -- a move reflected in the United States' eugenics movement -- was a precursor to the mercy killing of those deemed "uncurable."
In December 2004, the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) "asked the Netherlands Ministry of Health to create an independent board to evaluate euthanasia cases for each category of people 'with no free will,' a category that would include children, the severely mentally retarded and patients in irreversible comas. ("Dutch ponder 'mercy killing' rules", CNN Dec. 2, 2004).
According to the Associated Press, the Groningen Academic Hospital in Amsterdam "recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carrying out such procedures, which include administering a lethal dose of sedatives." ("Netherlands grapples with euthanasia of babies" MSNBC, Nov. 30, 2004). The story made its rounds through the blogosphere, but as Hugh Hewitt noted in the Weekly Standard ("Death by Committee", received precious little mention by the editors and pundits in the mainstream press.
Those living in the United States might react with horror and moral repugnance at the news coming from the Netherlands, but we've got monsters in our own backyard to contend with. The State of Oregon has already taken the plunge by passing its own doctor-assisted suicide law in 1997, resulting in the documented deaths of more than 170 patients.
Those involved in Germany's T4 program were compelled by social Darwinianism (for whom the disabled were considered an impediment to their utopian dream of a master race); the Dutch on the other hand are motivated by a more enlightened compassion (desiring a quick and "painless" end to those for whom there is no cure), and Michael Schiavo is driven by the desire to put his wife out of her alleged misery and go on with his own life (having already done so to a certain extent, shacking up with his mistress and melting down Terri's wedding rings to make jewelry for himself). Regardless of the historical context or personal motivation, there seems to be an underlying theme to these situations: when faced with the task of caring for the disabled, and especially those deemed incurable, all those involved have subjectively decided that the patient's life is of such a quality that he or she may be deemed expendable. Suffering is regarded as the greatest offense, and killing is considered the chief act of mercy.
Monday, March 14, 2005
MH - The Lessons of "Mercy Killing"
by Our Word
An excellent post from Against the Grain. Takes us through eugenics, the Holocaust, the euthanasia laws in the Netherlands, the "assisted suicide" law in Oregon, and inevitably to Terri Schiavo. Advocates of "mercy killing" won't want to acknowledge the roots of their movement, but face it - once you start down this slippery slope, there's only one way it can end. Excerpts: