Euthanasia Essay: Assisted Suicide and Killing Cripples

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Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide and Killing Cripples

This desire to get rid of mentally and physically different people runs like a thread through human history. The Alaskan Inuits killed impaired kids at birth, as did the Masai of Africa and the Woggeo of New Guinea. Greeks in the fourth century BC used to expose (leave out in the weather to die) their disabled infants.

China’s rulers are soon to impose laws to “stop the prevalence of abnormal birth.” This is not about stopping the birth of able-bodied people capable of performing massacres in Tiananmen Square. No, apparently that is quite OK. By “abnormal,” they mean disabled people. “China,” says the Xinhua News Agency in Beijing, now has “10 million disabled people who could have been prevented through better controls.”

The Bible doesn’t help much either. In Leviticus 21:18 for example, some twelve impairments – from restricted growth to ruptured testicles, are listed as being unacceptable to God whilst in 2 Samuel 5:8 He orders that those who are blind and lame “shall not come into the home.”

Darwin’s theory of evolution and the survival of the fittest gave these ancient attitudes a new lease on life. In the capitalist jungle of Victorian England, social Darwinism and eugenics were soon invented to scientifically prove that, if the weakest went to the wall, such was the inevitable price of progress. Why bother to change society for the better when you had a scientifically legitimate way of getting rid of those who couldn’t keep up, who fell by the wayside?

In 1907 Indiana was the first of 30 American states to legalize the sterilization of a variety of disabled people and other “undesirables,” and similar laws were passed in Germany (1933-4), Canada (1928), Denmark and Sweden (1929), Finland (1930) and Iceland (1930). It was of course in Germany that the lust for our blood was taken to its logical conclusion. Under the National Socialist Party, the 1933 Law on the Prevention of Congenitally Impaired Progeny and the 1935 Marriage Health Law legalized involuntary sterilization and required doctors to report known disabled people to the Sterilization Courts.

But it was Hitler who really set the ball rolling to sweep us off the face of the earth. On September 1, 1939, he issued a directive giving authority to “certain physicians to be designated by name in such a manner that persons who, according to human judgement, are incurable can, upon a most careful diagnosis of their condition of sickness, be accorded a mercy death.