The Euthanasia Debate

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Qualifying euthanasia by calling it active or passive, direct or indirect, voluntary, non-voluntary, involuntary, or assisted suicide only confuses the picture. Euthanasia is when the doctor kills the patient. This simplification is made at the outset as an assist to the reader in more easily understanding the essential meaning without getting lost in hair-splitting verbiage. This approach does not compromise any of the excellent sources documenting this essay. The original or first broad euthanasia program was for the purpose of "purifying" the German race under Hitler. It was a creation of German physicians, not of Hitler. He simply allowed the use of the tools others had prepared. The first gas chamber was designed by professors of psychiatry from 12 major German universities. They selected the patients and watched them die. Then they slowly reduced the criteria until the mental hospitals were almost empty. They were joined by some pediatricians, who began by emptying the institutions for handicapped children in 1939. By 1945, almost 300,000 "pure blood Aryan" Germans had been killed. By then these doctors had so lowered the criteria that they were killing bed-wetters, children with misshapen ears, and those with learning disabilities. (Wertham) Hitler, taking his cue from the physicians, after this eugenic killing of "defective" Aryan Germans, then used their gas chambers and proceeded to eliminate "defective" races. He destroyed an entire race of Gypsies, six million Jews, and perhaps almost as many captured Poles, Russians, and central Europeans. (Id. 47) But the euthanasia program actually began earlier with sterilization. The first and fundamental law change was the Law for the Prevention of Progeny wit... ... middle of paper ... ... 221 Editorial, Karl Singer, Patient Care, May 30, '94 Emanuel,E. et al., Cancer Patients With Pain, Lancet, 6/29/96 Fenigsen,R. "Involuntary Euthanasia in Holland," Wall Street Journal, Sept. 30, 1987 Lynn,J. Terminally Ill, Forgoing . . . Care, Dartmouth, Boston Globe, May 21, 1994 Russell,R. Seriously Ill Want CPR, Beth Israel Hosp., AMA News, Feb. 26, '96 Sanis,M. et al., "Patients & Family's Preferences for Medical Intensive Care," JAMA, vol. 260, no. 6, Aug. 12, '88, p. 797 Shewman, Active Voluntary Euthanasia, Issues in Law & Medicine, Winter 1987, pg. 234 "Trials of War Criminals," Nuremberg Military Tribunal, Washington, DC; USGPO, vol. IV, p. 610 Wertham, The German Euthanasia Program, Hayes Publishing Co., Cinn, 1977, p. 47 Willke,J. "How Doctors Kill Patients in Holland," Nat'l Right to Life News, May 23, 1989

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