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April 5, 2005

Medical Killing and Common Sense

Topics: Commentary

Excerpted from Pamela Hennessy

While many commentators began to eagerly sink their claws into the debate of how Terri's case will impact an arrogant and bumbling judiciary, I had hoped more would address how it would affect our disabled and elderly. While the country divided itself over which party was acting appropriately (the parents who wanted to save her and the husband who wanted her dead), I was hoping more Americans would thoughtfully consider whether they believed it ethical for a deliberate killing to take place in a healthcare setting. Instead of the all-too-familiar call for individuals to run out and get a living will, I had hoped the notion of protecting oneself from starvation and dehydration would have gained a mention.

Instead, the usual peanut gallery of "experts" have been paraded in front of every news camera in America, arguing fitfully over self-composed definitions of persistent vegetative state, quality of life and spousal rights. Regrettably, not one has yet addressed the surely coming dangers that the Terri Schiavo case has laid the groundwork for.

Medical killing. Think about the term in the abstract alone. Is this what we truly desire for ourselves? Is this the legacy we intend to leave our children and grandchildren? Medical killing. To a sensible person, the words don't really belong together. Yet, they are now joined rather efficiently as a matter of our society's history.

Do not fail to appreciate the reality of Terri Schiavo's death in the technical sense. A healthy, but brain-injured, woman was deliberately deprived of a basic, human need with the sole purpose of making her dead. And, it worked.

In the months to come, I have no doubt that people all over the world will be mourning the loss of young Terri. I'll be doing the same, but I'll also be grieving for the loss of our sensibilities.

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Posted by tim at April 5, 2005 12:34 PM

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Where is Holocaust education in this country? How many people have heard of Hadamar, Sonnenstein, Brandenberg, Bernberg, Grafeneck, and Hartheim? How many know of Alfred Hoche and Karl Binding and Die Freigabe der Vernichtung Lebensunwerten Lebens? Lots of people know about Auschwitz, but the medical and espicially psychiatric professions have covered up the role their murderous colleagues played in instigating the Shoah. Indeed, many of the German psychiatrists who devisesd the gas chambers and other means of medical murder, including Werner villinger, were not only not punished for their crimes but were honored -- Villinger was invitet to the White House Conference on Children and Youth in 1950. Even worse, the American Psychiatric Association called for gassing severly "retarded" children in July 1942, siding with the position of Dr. Foster Kennedy. The APA has never repudiated its support for medical murder.

For more info, see Henry Friedlander's book The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution, Frederic Wertham's book A Sign for Cain, chapter 9, "The Germanium in the window, and my own article in the January/February 1992 issue of the Disability Rag, "Silence on the Psychiatric Holocaust," reprinted in The Ragged Edge (the Rag's "best of" collection).

If people knew the history, it would be much harder for them to justify medical murder. As Santayana said, those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. How sadly right he was.

Stephen Mendelsohn
Accessible Synagogues and Attitudes Project

Posted by: Stephen Mendelsohn at April 5, 2005 1:40 PM

People also forget the lessons of St. Maximillian Kolbe, cannonized by John Paul II, who gave his life to save that of a fellow prisoner in Auschwitz, by taking his place in the dreaded and horrible starvation bunker.

People also fail to notice, (or rather studiously ignore), that America has "accepted" court enforced medical killing for 32 years now, under the clinical and cold name of "induced abortion".

To accomplish the full fruition of what we're seeing, both the medical and the legal professions have had to give up their souls, in exchange for the raw power of killing.

I can't think of a safe place on earth now, to be very young, very old, or very disabled.

Well, maybe only Vatican City.

Posted by: Suzanne. at April 5, 2005 2:35 PM


the education process needs to be a lot broader than just the USA. This is an issue in other countries too.

We need a coordinated effort to ensure that this education is as broad as possible. We need to get the message out that before the Final Solution we had Eugenics, and at least 300,000 disabled people of all descriptions were murdered in Nazi Germany.

You have the resources, and we need to help to pull it together. I would suggest that you need to build a web site aimed at educating people about the attitude of the Nazis, and then extending it to include the attitude of the bioethicists to this day.

Posted by: Maggie4life at April 6, 2005 5:26 PM