The Politics Of Death: Thirty-Nine Years And Counting
An examination of the “medicalization of killing” that has taken place in American culture.


Pandora's Box: The Demons Unleashed

The Sancity-Of-Life Ethic

Brain Death Criteria: An Inexact Art

A Disposable Society

A Disposable Society

by: Allan Turner

We live in a "disposable society" where it is common to discard whatever is useless or no longer functional. Unfortunately, humans are now being treated the way we have in the past only treated things. For over two decades now, children in utero, who are definitely "alive," have been stripped of their legal protection as "persons," and have been slaughtered at the rate of one and a half million per year. For emphasis, let us put it this way: Since that infamous Supreme Court decision of January 22, 1973, which legalized abortion, children in this country have been killed in their mother's wombs in numbers now equivalent to the entire population of Canada, plus some other smaller countries. In all these abortions, not one mother or physician has been charged with "homicide." Why? The answer is simple: One cannot "legally" commit homicide by killing a "non-person."

Those who have stood in the breach made on our liberties by the pro-abortionists have argued that infanticide and euthanasia would follow on the coattails of legalized abortion. As I have already pointed out, these prophecies have now proven true. The redefinition of key concepts has played a major part in this. Infanticide is now openly engaged in by those who have replaced the "sanctity-of-life" ethic with a "quality-of-life" ethic. Infants who are born deformed or retarded are allowed to die (in some cases they are starved to death) because it is believed they would not experience lives with enough "quality" in them to be worth living. As I have previously pointed out, such killings have been euphemistically referred to by the medical profession as "the treatment to do nothing." Furthermore, the sticky problems first associated with euthanasia (viz., is it right to take the life of a person who no longer has an appreciable quality of life?) have now been resolved by the relatively simple and ingenious method of redefining death. In pointing this out, I am only shedding light on what ethicists have been saying for sometime now. In a book addressed to the euthanasia debate, authors Germain Grisez and Joseph M. Boyle, Jr. wrote: "The relevance of the question of the definition of death is twofold...First, if it is possible to correctly call 'dead' certain classes of individuals which previously were considered living, and if it seems to many people appropriate to deal with these individuals as dead, then the law can approve what people consider appropriate without admitting homicide, for there is no homicide involved in treating the dead as dead. Thus, a correct definition of death, if it would eliminate some false classifications of dead individuals among the living, could relieve some of the pressure for legalizing euthanasia—in this case, pressure arising from a right attitude toward individuals really dead and only considered alive due to conceptual confusion." They went on to say: "Second, if it is possible to mistakenly call 'dead' certain classes of individuals who previously were considered living, then the law can be made to approve homicide without seeming to admit it. Thus, a mistaken definition of death...could achieve the objective of legalizing euthanasia without having to meet and deal straight forwardly with the questions of liberty and justice involved in such legalization" (Life and Death with Liberty and Justice: A Contribution to the Euthanasia Debate, 1979, page 61).

Where was the justice for the thirty-nine million unborn children who have been aborted since January 22, 1973? Where is the justice for the million and a half children who will be aborted this year? Where was the justice for those infants who have had their lives terminated because those duty-bound to treat them have thought their lives did not have enough "quality" to be worth living? Where is the justice for all the "Baby Does" who will fall victims of infanticide in the "healing centers" of America this year? Where is the justice for all the neomorts or "living cadavers" who, because of some new definition of death designed primarily to facilitate the use of body parts, will have their vital organs excised while they continue to exhibit all the signs traditionally associated with being alive?

Did you know that neomorts are not even given anesthesia in preparation for the removal of their vital organs? Remember, neomorts are legally dead and there is no reason to anesthetize the dead, is there? According to Dr. Byrne, who I mentioned previously, the only medication given the neomort is a drug that causes paralysis. Why? Because it seems many medical people were a little skittish about removing organs from "cadavers" that exhibited "aliveness" on the operating tables.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a strong resistance to the drawing of any parallels between what happened under Hitler and developments related to abortion and euthanasia in America, but the "medicalization of death" that took place in Germany was built on the concept of Lebensunwertes Leben, that is, "life unworthy of life" (a term used in the widely reviewed book, The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, written by Jay Lifton, professor of psychiatry at City University of New York). As Richard John Neuhaus pointed out in The Religion & Society Report: "Entire classes of human life—the unwanted unborn, cripples, mental defectives, and racial groupings such as Jews and Gypsies—were declared to be instances of Lebensunwertes Leben. The medicalization of killing also required that medicine still be viewed as a serving and healing enterprise, even a kind of ministry. So it was proposed that doctors were rendering a service not only to the community but to the individuals themselves in relieving them of their unworthy lives" ("What Happened To The Doctors," The Religion & Society Report, Vol. 4, No. 1, January 1987, pages 1-4).

Neuhaus further points out that Nazi Germany embraced the argument advanced in a 1920 work by Dr. Alfred Hoche, professor of psychiatry at Freiburg, entitled Die Freigabe der Vernichtung Lebensunwerten Leben ("The Permission to Terminate Life Unworthy of Life"). Noting that under some circumstances doctors were permitted to kill a live baby at birth and to abort the unborn, Dr. Hoche set forth the idea of "mental death" to permit the taking of lives afflicted by various forms of psychiatric disturbances, brain damage, and retardation. Such people, according to Dr. Hoche, were "human ballast," and putting them to death "is not to be equated with other types of killing...but is an allowable, useful act." In other words, Hoche was saying these people were already dead. Such "medical terminations" would be not only a service to those suffering from "wrongful life," but would also be a service to the general public.

How can it continue to be denied that the similarities between what took place in Nazi Germany and what is taking place in America today is, in fact, real, and not just the figments of the minds of wide-eyed, fanatical preachers?

Those on trial at Nuremberg seldom used words like "murder," "torture," and "starvation." They cloaked their crimes with such vague euphemisms as "such things" and "those horrors." In their documents were found expressions like "the Jewish problem," and "the Polish problem." Who can deny the logic of solving problems? Unfortunately, such diabolical problem solving ultimately cost the lives of millions of people.

What I have been writing about in this series of articles is a faith issue. If we give ear to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, we can have our consciences seared with a hot iron (cf. I Timothy 4:1-2). Furthermore, if it were possible, Satan would deceive the very elect (Mark 13:22). Therefore, we must never let terms like "fetus" and "neomort" and expressions like "quality of life" "the treatment to do nothing" and "a life not worthy to be lived" affect our thinking on abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia.

As we conclude this series, it would do us all good to reflect on the wise and knowing words of one who survived Auschwitz: "The doctor...if not living in a moral situation...where limits are very very dangerous" (Robert Lifton, The Nazi Doctors, Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, 1986, page 418). Realizing the truth of this statement, in February 1975, just two years after Roe Vs. Wade, West Germany's Supreme Court banned abortion-on-demand during the first trimester of pregnancy, by stating, "We cannot ignore the educational impact of abortion on the respect for life." Germany evidently had learned from its terrible mistakes. It is sad that America is now making many of those same mistakes. It is even sadder to think that the only thing we may learn from these mistakes is how to call good evil and evil good.

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