Quebec’s Bill 52, An Act Respecting End of Life Care, passed 94–22 on 5 June 2014, a strong majority of the National Assembly endorsing the thesis of the Parti Québécois MNA, Véronique Hivon, that “Dying with dignity means dying with the least amount of suffering.” What this absurd thesis does to the very concept of dignity few seem to have pondered. Or for that matter what it does to the concept of sacrificial suffering and death – ironically this vote took place on the eve of the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Nor should it be forgotten that it was with similar falsehoods that the Nazis embarked on the road on which we have now embarked:

Whatever proportions these crimes finally assumed, it became evident to all who investigated them that they had started from small beginnings. The beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitude of the physicians. It started with the acceptance of the attitude, basic in the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as life not worthy to be lived. This attitude in its early stages concerned itself merely with the severely and chronically sick. Gradually the sphere of those to be included in this category was enlarged to encompass the socially unproductive, the ideologically unwanted, the racially unwanted and finally all non-Germans. But it is important to realize that the infinitely small wedged-in lever from which this entire trend of mind received its impetus was the attitude toward the nonrehabilitable sick.  (The New England Journal of Medicine, 14 July 1949).

The author of this article is Major Leo Alexander, whose duty it was at the war’s end to track down those who had carried out medical experiments in the concentration camps. Alexander includes a section on “The Situation in the United States” that a medical colleague tells me is still relevant today. The article can be downloaded at Pluralism, Religion, and Public Policy.

More on: Euthanasia

Articles by Douglas Farrow

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