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.

The dark history of eugenics

This article was written by Michael Cook and published by Bioedge on January 23.

By Michael Cook

The dark history of government-sponsored eugenics before World War II has largely been forgotten, although it is well documented. A new book, Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era(Princeton UP, 2016), by Thomas C. Leonard, is a painful reminder that some of the best minds in the United States and Britain were in favour of purging the “race” of “defectives”.

The heyday of the eugenics movement was during World War I and the 1920s. Some geneticists distanced themselves from eugenics, but usually because it had been tainted by racism and anti-Semitism.

Eugenics was literally regarded as a religion by leading economists. In 1915 Irving Fisher, one of the greatest of the early 20th century, told a Race Betterment Conference organised by cornflakes inventor and eugenicist John Henry Kellogg, that eugenics was “the foremost plan of human redemption”. Religious opponents (notably the Catholic Church) were a shrinking minority which had also opposed Copernicus, Galileo and Darwin.

It all seemed very scientific. In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel, the central character complains that civilization is spinning apart and that “ if we don’t look out the white race will be — will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved.”

Link to the full article

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

Canadian Supreme Court condemns disabled people to death

By Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick (OBE)

Kevin Fitzpatrick

Kevin Fitzpatrick

The Supreme Court of Canada judgment confirms what people with disabilities have always known – assisted suicide and euthanasia (AS/E) are fundamentally rooted in the most heinous discrimination against disabled people – discrimination to death.

The assisted suicide lobby in the UK, as in Canada today, has scorned this idea, without rationale. There are terrible purposes at work. The press to legalise assisted death only thinly veils the view that the lives of people with disabilities are not worth living. 

The evidence is overwhelming and was, long before a Belgian government adviser angrily stated at a public debate in November 2013, that a man with no arms and no legs should want to die - and flaunted his ‘life’s mission’, to facilitate such wishes. We knew the root of his hatred is seeing disabled lives as worthless, to be disposed of at the point of a needle. When his doctor colleague openly linked Belgian euthanasia law with world over-population, Hannah Arendt’s words came back to haunt us: they do not want to share the Earth with us.

Arendt was speaking about Eichmann’s trial, as she reflected a truth: it was small steps taken in the late 19th century that were fostered, bolstered and implemented by doctors, leading to the program of euthanasia which ended in Auschwitz. Those steps included the application of the new branch of mathematics called statistics in connection with eugenics, the ends were catastrophic. Someone might have argued, once, that no-one could have foreseen such consequences. We have no such excuse today.

Link to the full article

Rethink Euthanasia

This letter was published on December 13 in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

By Dr Linda Baker

In his column Where's the line in legalizing euthanasia? (Dec 9) Andrew Coyne makes a factual, dispassionate presentation on the situation in place in Quebec currently and is being considered federally. These are the same arguments against allowing euthanasia being raised by the Canadian Society of Palliative Physicians, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of Canada, and the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, among others.

Unfortunately, some of these organizations are mistakenly viewed as "Christian fundamentalists" with an agenda to impose their values on others. I hope Coyne's objective summary will speak sense to citizens and government before we misguidedly go down a path that we as a country will regret. Witness what is happening in Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Canadians need to realize that pain usually can be well controlled, and that physicians are seeking to improve palliative care. During the course of any illness, patients have the right to decline recommended treatment they feel is burdensome or futile.

Link to the full article

Andrew Coyne: Assisted Suicide What begins in compassion seems to end in eugenics.

This article was written by Andrew Coyne and published in the National Post on Dec 9, 2014.

By Andrew Coyne - National Post Columnist

Andrew Coyne

Andrew Coyne

The case for assisted suicide and euthanasia, at least as it has been presented, is that we may freely dispense with certain moral distinctions, once considered of some importance — between killing yourself and having someone else kill you; between refraining from prolonging life and deliberately ending it — while continuing to insist on any number of others.

The issue is thus invariably cast as if the practice would be reserved for adults of sound mind, in the final stages of a terminal illness, suffering unbearable physical pain, freely consenting to have done to them what they would surely choose to do themselves were they not so disabled. In its most complete form, the patient must not only consent, but actually initiate the process in some way (hence “assisted” suicide, versus euthanasia, where someone else does the deed). At all events we are assured the task would be performed by a licensed physician, no doubt with a sterilized needle.

So it is that a cause advanced in the name of a limitless individual freedom (self-annihilation, it is said, being the ultimate assertion of personal autonomy) defends itself with reference to how acutely limited that freedom would actually be. Advocates, impatient with such arbitrary distinctions as that between suicide and assisted suicide — of what use is the right to kill oneself, they ask, if you are physically incapable of carrying it out? — are nevertheless at pains to preserve the distinction between terminal illness and mere depression, between adults and children, between the mentally competent and incompetent, between personally consenting and having someone else consent on your behalf.

But it cannot be. By erasing the one distinction, they eviscerate the rest. For the right asserted in this case is not merely a negative right, in the old-fashioned sense of the right to be left alone, but a positive right, a claim on others, entitling one to their assistance. It is not a civil liberty, such as the right to vote, implying a degree of competency or at least free will such that it might justifiably be restricted to adults, but a more fundamental sort of right, like the right not to be tortured, that does not hinge upon agency in the rights-holders, but inheres in them simply as human beings (or even animals).

Link to full article.