Killing Babies, Compassionately: The Netherlands follows in Germany's footsteps.
At last a high government official in Europe got up the nerve to chastise chas·tise
tr.v. chas·tised, chas·tis·ing, chas·tis·es
1. To punish, as by beating. See Synonyms at punish.
2. To criticize severely; rebuke.
3. Archaic To purify. the Dutch government for preparing to legalize le·gal·ize
tr.v. le·gal·ized, le·gal·iz·ing, le·gal·iz·es
To make legal or lawful; authorize or sanction by law.
le infant euthanasia. Italy's Parliamentary Affairs minister, Carlo Giovanardi Carlo Amedeo Giovanardi (Modena, 15 January 1950) is an Italian politician. Political career
He graduated in jurisprudence, and did his military service in the Carabinieri. , said during a radio debate: "Nazi legislation and Hitler's ideas are reemerging in Europe via Dutch euthanasia laws and the debate on how to kill ill children."
Unsurprisingly, the Dutch, ever prickly about international criticism of their peculiar institution, were outraged. Giovanardi's critique cut so deeply that even Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende Jan Peter Balkenende (pronounced IPA: [ˈjɑn ˈpetəɹ ˈbɑɫkənʕɛndə] felt the need to respond, sniffing, "This [Giovanardi's assertion] is scandalous and unacceptable. This is not the way to get along in Europe."
As is often appears the case in the New Europe, what is said matters more than what is done. Thus, the prime minister of the Netherlands The prime minister of the Netherlands is the head of government of the Netherlands and is the chair of the Dutch cabinet, and, as such, coordinates the policy of the government. thinks that killing babies because they are born with terminal or seriously disabling conditions is not a scandal, but daring to point out accurately that German doctors did the same during World War II, is.
That being noted, one wishes Giovanardi had thought twice before raising the Nazi specter. Partly, this is because nothing we are talking about today matches the scope or magnitude of Nazi crimes. As a result, accusing people of Nazi-like behavior allows those amply deserving of moral condemnation to deflect reproaches. Thus, Giovanardi says that killing disabled babies is what the Nazis did, and the Dutch merely retort (correctly) that they are not Nazis.
Still, the "Nazi" analogy is worth exploring, precisely because it is unequivocally true that German doctors did kill thousands of disabled babies, for which a few such physicians were hanged at Nuremberg. Dutch apologists know this, of course.
But they claim that the Netherlands' infant euthanasia program is substantially different: Dutch doctors are motivated by compassion whereas the Germans were motivated by the bigotry of racial hygiene. Of course it is the act of killing disabled and dying babies that is wrong, not the motivation. But even leaving that aside, the Dutch defense is not as persuasive as Prime Minister Balkenende would like us to believe.
German Euthanasia 193845
The seeds of German euthanasia were planted in 1920 in the book Permission to Destroy Life Unworthy of Life "Life unworthy of life" (in German: "Lebensunwertes Leben") was a Nazi designation for the segments of populace that, according to racial policies of the Third Reich, had no right to live and thus were to be "exterminated. (Die Freigabe der Vernichtung lebensunwerten Leben). Its authors were two of the most respected academics in their respective fields: Karl Binding was a renowned law professor, and Alfred Hoche a physician and humanitarian.
The authors accepted wholeheartedly whole·heart·ed
Marked by unconditional commitment, unstinting devotion, or unreserved enthusiasm: wholehearted approval.
whole that people with terminal illnesses, the mentally ill or retarded, and deformed people could be euthanized as "life unworthy of life." More than that, the authors professionalized and medicalized the concept and, according to Robert Jay Lifton Robert Jay Lifton, M.D. (born May 16, 1926) is an American psychiatrist and author, chiefly known for his studies of the psychological causes and effects of war and political violence and for his theory of thought reform. He was an early proponent of the techniques of psychohistory. in The Nazi Doctors, promoted euthanasia in these circumstances as "purely a healing treatment" and a "healing work"justified as a splendid way to relieve suffering while saving money spent on caring for the disabled.
Over the years Binding and Hoche's attitudes percolated throughout German society and became accepted widely. These attitudes were stoked stoked
1. Exhilarated or excited.
2. Being or feeling high or intoxicated, especially from a drug. enthusiastically by the Nazis so that by 1938 the German government received an outpouring of requests from the relatives of severely disabled infants and young children seeking permission to end their lives.
The key test came in late 1938 when the father of "Baby Knauer," an infant born blind and missing his leg and part of his arm, wrote Hitler requesting permission to have his child "put to sleep." As described by Lifton and other historians, Hitler was quite interested in the case and sent one of his personal physicians, Karl Rudolph Brandt, to investigate.
Brandt's instructions from his Fuhrer füh·rer also fueh·rer
A leader, especially one exercising the powers of a tyrant.
[German, from Middle High German vüerer, from vüeren, to lead, from Old High German were to verify the facts of the baby's condition and, if found to be true, to assure the child's doctors and his parents that if he was killed, no one would face punishment. The doctors in the case who met with Brandt agreed that there was "no justification for keeping the child alive." Baby Knauer soon became one of the first victims of the Holocaust.
Hitler later signed a secret decree permitting the euthanasia of disabled infants. Sympathetic physicians and nurses from around the countrymany not even Nazi party memberscooperated in the horror that followed. Formal "protective guidelines" were created, including the creation of a panel of "expert referees," which judged which infants were eligible for the program.
Beginning in early 1939, babies born with birth defects birth defects, abnormalities in physical or mental structure or function that are present at birth. They range from minor to seriously deforming or life-threatening. A major defect of some type occurs in approximately 3% of all births. or with congenital diseases were euthanized. Their doctors would admit these unfortunate infants to medical clinics, where they would be killed. The practice quickly became systematized.
Regulations made it mandatory for midwives and doctors to notify authorities whenever a baby was born with birth defects. These cases would be reviewed by the euthanasia referees to determine if the children were eligible for euthanasia. Those deemed killable were usually dispatched via an overdose of a drug, most typically a sedative sedative, any of a variety of drugs that relieve anxiety. Most sedatives act as mild depressants of the nervous system, lessening general nervous activity or reducing the irritability or activity of a specific organ. called Luminal.
The euphemism of choice for this murder was "treatment." Most, but not all, of this killing was done in secret.
It is important to note that throughout the years in which euthanasia was performed in Germany, whether as part of the officially sanctioned government program or otherwise, the government did not force doctors to kill. Participating doctors had become true believers, convinced they were performing a valuable medical service for their "patients" and their country.
Eventually, the "success" of the infant euthanasia program led to the infamous "T-4" project in which adult disabled German citizens were mass murdered. Hitler eventually canceled the T-4 program in the face of public protests but that didn't matter.
From around 1943 until a few weeks after the end of the war, some doctors went on a eugenic eu·gen·ic
1. Of or relating to eugenics.
2. Relating or adapted to the production of good or improved offspring. killing rampage. Known today as "wild euthanasia," during the later war years German doctors killed any patient they pleased, often without medical examination, usually by starvation or lethal injection.
Dutch Infant Euthanasia
In 2004, Groningen University Medical Center made international headlines when it admitted to permitting pediatric pediatric /pe·di·at·ric/ (pe?de-at´rik) pertaining to the health of children.
Of or relating to pediatrics. euthanasia and published the "Groningen Protocol," infanticide infanticide (ĭnfăn`təsīd) [Lat.,=child murder], the putting to death of the newborn with the consent of the parent, family, or community. Infanticide often occurs among peoples whose food supply is insecure (e.g. guidelines the hospital followed when killing 22 disabled newborns between 1997 and 2004. The media reacted as if killing disabled babies in the Netherlands was something new.
But Dutch doctors have engaged in infanticide for more than 15 years. (A Dutch government-supported documentary justifying infant euthanasia played on PBS PBS
in full Public Broadcasting Service
Private, nonprofit U.S. corporation of public television stations. PBS provides its member stations, which are supported by public funds and private contributions rather than by commercials, with educational, cultural, in 1993. Moreover, a study published in 1997 in the Lancet determined that in 1995, about 8 percent of all infants who died in the Netherlandssome 80 babieswere euthanized by doctors, and not all with parental consent; this figure was reproduced in a subsequent study covering the year 2001.)
As far back as 1990, the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG KNMG Koninklijke Nederlandsche Maatschappij tot Bevordering der Geneeskunst (Royal Dutch Medical Association - RDMA) ) published a report intended to govern "life-terminating actions" taken against incompetent patients, including severely disabled newborns. The KNMG approved of pediatric euthanasia if the baby is deemed to have an "unlivable life," a concept disturbingly close to Binding and Hoche's "life unworthy of life."
The "livableness" of a newborn's life is determined by a combination of factors, including the following:
* The expected measure of suffering (not only bodily but also emotionalthe level of hopelessness)
* The expected potential for communication and human relationships, independence (ability to move, to care for oneself, to live independently), self-realization (being able to hear, read, write, labor), and the like.
* The child's life expectancy Life Expectancy
1. The age until which a person is expected to live.
2. The remaining number of years an individual is expected to live, based on IRS issued life expectancy tables. .
If the infant's "prospects" didn't measure up, the child could be euthanized.
The subsequently compiled Groningen Protocolwhich is expected to form the basis for the official approval of Dutch pediatric euthanasiasimilarly created categories of killable babies: infants "with no chance of survival," infants with a "poor prognosis and are dependent on intensive care," and "infants with a hopeless prognosis," including those "not depending on intensive medical treatment but for whom a very poor quality of life ... is predicted." In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , infant euthanasia is not restricted to dying babies but can be based on predicted serious disability.
So, was Giovanardi correct in his comparison of Dutch infant euthanasia with that of Germany circa 193845? No and yes.
Certainly the breadth and scope of the killing in Germany far exceeded anything that is ever likely to happen in the Netherlands. And, to their credit, the Dutch unquestionably un·ques·tion·a·ble
Beyond question or doubt. See Synonyms at authentic.
un·question·a·bil disdain the kind of pernicious social Darwinism that helped fuel the German euthanasia pogrom pogrom (pō`grəm, pōgrŏm`), Russian term, originally meaning "riot," that came to be applied to a series of violent attacks on Jews in Russia in the late 19th and early 20th cent. . Nor does pediatric euthanasia seem to be financially motivated, which also played a part in German infant euthanasia.
But the Netherlands cannot escape this ugly fact: Dutch doctors kill scores of babies each year and justify this fundamental abuse of human rights upon the inherently discriminatory concept that they can decide that another human being's life is of such low quality it has no business being lived.
In this sense, the Dutch infanticide program is explicitly akin to the murder of Baby Knauer in 1938. Unless we decide to revise our historical assessment of that crime and proclaim Hitler's authorization for the baby's euthanasia as compassionate and right, we should loudly and universally condemn the systematic program of Dutch infant euthanasia.
Wesley J. Smith The references in this article would be clearer with a different and/or consistent style of citation, footnoting or external linking.
Wesley J. Smith is a lawyer and an award winning author, is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics bioethics, in philosophy, a branch of ethics concerned with issues surrounding health care and the biological sciences. These issues include the morality of abortion, euthanasia, in vitro fertilization, and organ transplants (see transplantation, medical). and Culture. His updated Forced Exit: Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide assisted suicide: see euthanasia. and the New Duty to Die, from which some of this material was taken, will be released soon by Encounter Books. This first appeared in the Weekly Standard and is reprinted with permission.