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Friday, December 03, 2004

Mercy Killings Then and Now

As I continue to reflect upon the "Groningen Protocol" as it is now popularly referred to, my mind was drawn to thoughts of Malthus, Darwin, Nazi Germany, etc. The unspoken premise in the Netherlands is that the objects of "mercy killing" have no productive reason to live. The subjective questions of quality of life, pain and pain management are quite simply that...subjective. Each individual and/or his loved ones will approach those questions differently, as is their right. The truly frightful thing is that the decision to euthanize is based upon the perceived needs and desires of the society as those needs and desires are interpreted and applied by the state. In cradle-to-grave welfare states like the Netherlands, how long before these now bureaucratic decisions will be influenced by, if not entirely based upon, the financial costs to society to care for these children? I found the following in Wikipedia as I did a bit of research on the history of eugenics, which is precisely what this is: The word "eugenics" (from the Greek for "well-born") was coined in 1883 by Sir Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, to refer to the study and use of selective breeding (of animals or humans) to improve a species over generations, specifically in regards to hereditary features. Within a few years, Galton had improved his definition to include the specific varieties of "positive" eugenics (encouraging the "most fit" to reproduce more often) and "negative" eugenics (discouraging or preventing the "less fit" from reproducing). A eugenicist can be vaguely construed as anyone who is an advocate of, a follower of, or a researcher for eugenics. Also this: Germany under Adolf Hitler was infamous for its eugenics programs, which attempted to maintain a "pure" German race. Among other acts, the Nazis performed extensive experimentation on live human beings to test their genetic theories. During the 1930s and 1940s the Nazi regime forcibly sterilized hundreds of thousands of people who they viewed as mentally "unfit," and killed tens of thousands of the institutionalized disabled in their compulsory euthanasia programs. They also implemented a number of "positive" eugenics policies, giving awards to "Aryan" women who had large numbers of children, and even encouraged a service in which "racially pure" single women would become impregnated by SS officers. Please read the entire article.

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