Sunday, November 05, 2006

Nazis in white coats

Today's Scotsman has a horrific article about doctors calling for "active euthanasia" of infants with severe disabilities.

SENIOR doctors are urging health professionals to consider permitting the euthanasia of seriously disabled newborn babies.

The proposal, by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology, follows the increase in the number of such children surviving because of medical advances.

The college is arguing for "active euthanasia" to be considered for the overall good of parents, sparing them the emotional burden and financial hardship of bringing up the sickest babies.

I wish I could say that I am shocked, but such outrages have been on the horizon for a long time. Of course, the advocates of active euthanasia say it is for the benefit of families and the children they wish to kill (killing is what "active euthanasia" means). Oppressors always say that they are hurting you only for your own good. Segregationists in the United States argued that Jim Crow was beneficial to black people. White expansionists argued that the reservations were good for American Indians. Misogynists argue that their restriction of women's rights equates to putting womankind on a pedestal. What do all these oppressors have in common with euthanasists? They are lying. They only one being done any good is themselves.

A big part of life is how we respond to the weaker among us. This is something that anyone, religious or non-religious, left or right, should be able to agree on. A culture in which the weak are prey to the strong is a culture where no one is safe. The very weakest must always be protected, for their sakes and the sake of all members of society.

The people who advocate euthanasia are not interested in the well-being of those they seek to kill, or that of the families of the disabled. If they were, they could address those concerns by extending themselves more. They could volunteer to take over bedside duties once a week. They could more cheerfully contribute financially. They could make sure that the homebound are not shut away from society.

Some will say, oh but these are doctors! They have already sacrificed sooooo much for everyone else and, of course, they are selfless. Please. Anyone who thinks doctors are paragons of humanity doesn't have to interact with them much. They are just as liable to be vicious bastards as that idiot who cut you off in traffic. The fact is that, to be a doctor, one has to subject oneself to some pretty dehumanizing experiences. All the good will that the 18 year old pre-med had is little defense against the animal vivisection, the corpse dissection, the resident work hours that act to dull the brain, the repeated exposure to trauma. Doctors sacrifice a great part of themselves in their journey to become doctors, no doubt. And that is why they can't be trusted with these kinds of decisions. This is why they must be sworn to do no harm and take no life. The stereotype of the doctor with delusions of godhood exists for good reason.

And then there are the "medical ethicists." Medical ethicists are like economists. They think in terms of unreality. Given a model situation, where all actors are interchangable, what would happen? Well, there are no real model situations. Models are models, and reality is messy. Reality says that some are strong and some are weak, and that the strong will destroy the weak unless there are severe social taboos against such actions. It isn't like we don't have strong historical precedent to show us what will happen when the dealers in unreality take control. Soon reality becomes a horror show that none can escape, where the only virtue is that of survival, where there are no friends, no loved ones, no personal values that are worth endangering oneself for.

Speaking as an atheist and advocate of the scientific method, I strongly denounce the pseudoscience of social Darwinism. Evolution explains the development of separate species. It is not a plan for social engineering. Those who use it that way are just making excuses for the sort of behavior that made Sparta such a delightful spot in the ancient Mediterranean, that made Hitler's Germany such a comfort zone, that has made every royal palace in history such bastions of security. That is, they are simply justifying the destruction of the weak by the strong.

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