Euthanasia movement destroys its archives

Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

This article was published by Wesley Smith on his blog on February 6, 2016.
Dowbiggin's historical book - A Merciful End - is available on Amazon.

Historian Ian Dowbiggin wrote a splendid history of the euthanasia movement back in 2003. 

It was thorough, detailed, and objective. The movement cooperated with Dowbiggin by making its archives available for his use. But now, they may have been destroyed. From, “A Scandal in the Euthanasia Archives:” 

Imagine for a moment that reporters broke the news that the Vatican had destroyed the bulk of its archival records. 
Researchers around the world justifiably might accuse the Roman Catholic Church of a deliberate cover-up.  
Well, the Vatican has done no such thing. But it appears as if the right-to-die movement has. If so, one might well ask; why did people in the movement do it? Are they trying to hide something about their past?  
One thing is clear: if the euthanasia movement’s records have indeed been destroyed, a lot of history has vanished, Orwell-like, down a cavernous memory hole. And with it, information the right-to-die movement doesn’t want you to know. 

What is the evidence? 

About five years after the book’s publication, I was contacted by a US graduate student researching the history of euthanasia. She told me that in trying to track down the ESA records she had been informed that the collection had been intentionally destroyed. Just this year another US graduate student got in touch with me, also trying to locate the ESA archives.  
She too has been told the records no longer exist, although she is still investigating. Of course, it might be that the ESA records are sitting somewhere safe and sound. Yet why do groups like Compassion and Choices ignore my own requests for information? Why, when a published scholar in the history of medicine enquires about the whereabouts of this important archive, is there a resounding silence? 

What might they want to erase: 

Not only did these activists urge governments to permit voluntary mercy-killing and physician-assisted suicide, many also supported the involuntary mercy-killing of handicapped people. For example, despite his knowledge of widespread Nazi murder of people with disabilities, in 1943 the ESA’s president thought it was a good idea to legalize euthanasia in time for returning veterans who suffered from mental and physical wounds. 

The euthanasia movement spent more than one hundred years looking for the right words and impetus to convince people to follow their dark calling. They think they have found it in “compassssssionnnn.” 

That is part of it, in a twisted way. But there is so much more to it than that–a malign side–and that is what the modern euthanasiaists may not want people see.

Ian Dowbiggin: A scandal in the euthanasia archives - continued

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Ian Dowbiggin

Ian Dowbiggin

Ian Dowbiggin's article - A scandal in the euthanasia archives - was published in the Prince Arthur Herald on November 30, 2015. Dowbiggin, who is the author of the book: A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America, a history professor at UPEI and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada asks - Why has the euthanasia movement hidden or destroyed its history?

Today, the Prince Arthur Herald has published a follow-up article where Dowbiggin responds to an article by Stuart Chambers, a professor at the University of Ottawa, who challenges Dowbiggin's assertion with ad hominem arguments. Dowbiggin responds:

First, let’s dispense with that old canard, used by euthanasia enthusiasts like Chambers, that opponents of euthanasia are all “sanctity of life” proponents. It simply isn’t true; just ask disabilities groups which oppose euthanasia. Nor is it only Christians involved; Islam, Hinduism and many strands of Judaism condemn both assisted suicide and mercy-killing. 
When the euthanasia movement was propagandizing in favour of involuntary mercy-killing for either the good of the species or the economic welfare of society, there was no consensus supporting euthanasia. 
Quite the contrary; there was widespread opposition to this policy. Yet the movement forged ahead in defiance of experts from across the political spectrum and scripted its sorry history. 
Indeed, that is my very point about the euthanasia archives scandal. Chambers and his allies don’t want to open up the topic of their own shady history. If I were in their shoes, I might feel the same way. Their attempts to change public opinion depend on keeping their past under wraps. 
Lastly, Chambers says that even if euthanasia advocates had made mistakes in the past, all is well today. “Euthanasia lobbyists,” he reassures us, could never “maneuver” around the “checks and balances” of euthanasia laws and kill people with disabilities. 

Link to the full article

Ian Dowbiggin: A scandal in the euthanasia archives

The Prince Arthur Herald published this article on November 30, 2015. Ian Dowbiggin is the author of the book: A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America

Why has the euthanasia movement hidden or destroyed its history?

 

By Ian Dowbiggin 
Imagine for a moment that reporters broke the news that the Vatican had destroyed the bulk of its archival records. Researchers around the world justifiably might accuse the Roman Catholic Church of a deliberate cover-up. 
Well, the Vatican has done no such thing. But it appears as if the right-to-die movement has. If so, one might well ask; why did people in the movement do it? Are they trying to hide something about their past? 
One thing is clear: if the euthanasia movement’s records have indeed been destroyed, a lot of history has vanished, Orwell-like, down a cavernous memory hole. And with it, information the right-to-die movement doesn’t want you to know. 
I should know, because I saw these records and I know what was in them. I wrote up my findings in my 2003 book on the history of the movement, published by Oxford University Press. 
The story of my involvement in these valuable records begins about fifteen years ago when I was given permission to explore the archives of what used to be called Partnerships for Caring, Inc. PFC was a successor organization to the defunct Euthanasia Society of America (ESA). The ESA records, housed in a law firm in Baltimore, consisted of 15 large cardboard boxes holding correspondence, financial records, press releases, published materials and minutes of meetings, much of it uncatalogued. 

Link to the full article

It is still right to oppose euthanasia

This article was published by the Prince Arthur Herald on May 7, 2015.

By Professor Ian Dowbiggin

Ian Dowbiggin

Ian Dowbiggin

I applaud the Prince Arthur Herald for publishing Stuart Chambers’s attack on me and all others who oppose the legalization of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) or mercy-killing. The PAH’s commitment to open debate is admirable and should serve as a beacon to other media outlets in a day and age when it is more important than ever to speak clearly and concretely about the circumstances surrounding end-of-life care in today’s society.

Too often, the debate has been dominated by heart-rending, human-interest stories in the mainstream media about people in pain. What has been missing is plain talk and clear language.

I should know. I have spent the last fifteen years studying and publishing on the history of the euthanasia movement. That history includes the story of now-defunct organizations which paved the way for today’s Compassion and Choices, the leading North American group in favor of permitting assisted suicide. So Chambers’s attack on me is something I’m used to.

He is right about one thing: Based on my empirical studies, I have occasionally warned that, if our courts and other interest groups get their way, Canada will soon embrace the belief that some lives are not as valuable as others. Put another way: that some lives are more worthy of death than others.

One thing I have learned is that, historically speaking, the most vocal advocates of assisted suicide and other forms of euthanasia would not be happy until they could get society to accept the killing of people with a wide range of disabilities, with or without their consent.

Link to the full article