The Euthanasia Debate Essay

2531 words - 10 pages


   Euthanasia in this paper is examined in those countries which have legalized the procedure. And is found to be more of a burden than a blessing, indicating from the Dutch experience that it becomes an uncontrollable force once it has been legalized. There are welcome alternatives, for which proper training is necessary on the part of medical professionals.

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 with Hereditary Diseases, promulgated by Hitler on July 25, 1933. It was aimed at Aryan Germans, and its purpose was to purify the race by eliminating those with supposed heredity diseases. In six years, the law was responsible for the involuntary sterilization of an estimated 375,000 Germans. (Deuel) This law also legalized abortion for women who were to be sterilized. Later, the "right" to legal abortion was extended to Jews, Poles, Gypsies, and other racial minorities.

 

Holland was the first modern nation to legalize euthanasia. What began as a few extraordinary cases, has now become routine. One hundred and thirty thousand people die each year in Holland, and over 20,000 are killed, directly or indirectly, by doctors. As many as half did not ask to be killed. These now include newborn infants judged to have too poor a quality of life. A judge has permitted direct euthanasia for a depressed person who was physically well. Killing has also been allowed for depressed teenagers. Hospitalized seniors are routinely visited by an organization that offers to oversee their case to prevent their doctor from killing them. When asked whether they approved of euthanasia, senior citizens, healthy and living in the economy, agreed by 50%. When the same question was asked of residents of nursing homes, only 3% approved....

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