Wednesday 3 February 2010

The celebrity-driven campaign for assisted suicide has revealing historical links

Dr John Sentamu, the Anglican archbishop of York, has spoken out about the celebrity-driven campaign for legalised assisted suicide.

His Grace certainly has a point: The Voluntary Euthanasia Society's campaign is backed by, among others, Sir Terry Pratchett and Martin Amis, the best-selling authors, Nick Ross, the former BBC Crimewatch presenter, and Zoe Wanamaker, the actress. And Debbie Purdy, whose court victory successfully undermined legal protection for the disabled, was effectively turned into a celebrity via media circuses. This was witnessed first-hand by Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager.

The manipulation of television and film by campaigners, celebrities and arts/media fellow-travellers to promote assisted suicide and euthanasia has a long-track record. Perhaps the first-ever such manipulation dates back to 1941, with Ich Klage An ("I accuse") (pictured), a propaganda film created designed to reduce resistance to the Nazi adult euthanasia programme. The film centres around a woman with multiple sclerosis (just like Debbie Purdy) who asks to be killed. Simon Konrad, the then-bishop of Passau, issued a pastoral letter against the film, warning:
"[D]o not let yourself be confused by the fascinating representation of cases, which are invented on purpose to make a specific point, namely in order to beguile both natural and Christian common sense by evoking human compassion in an especially clever way!"
Some euthanasia campaigners object to the assertion of any analogy between Nazism and their own campaign. They even try to invoke Godwin's law, a proposed rule for debate that attempts to bar any such analogy. However, Godwin's law doesn't apply here, because we are not talking about analogies but historical facts. Many of the aspects of the Nazi euthanasia campaign are the same ones proposed by the Voluntary Euthanasia Society and its high-profile supporters:
  • Hitler's 1939 order empowered physicians to grant a "mercy death" to "patients considered incurable according to the best available human judgment of their state of health." Doctor-assisted killing of the terminally-ill is the VES's stated basic aim.
  • The Nazi adult euthanasia programme was operated by a review commissions, in which a tribunal of medical experts decided who qualified for death. Sir Terry Pratchett has this week proposed similar tribunals.
  • When opposition by the Catholic Church put a halt to the adult euthanasia programme within Germany, the technology was sent to Eastern Europe for use in the Jewish extermination programme. This included mobile gas vans and then the infamous gas chambers. Last week, Martin Amis proposed the establishment of booths where people deemed to qualify would be killed.
Sir Terry Pratchett questions why people would be frightened of doctors following the legalisation of doctor-assisted suicide. He is probably unaware that when assisted suicide was legalised briefly in the Northern Territory, Australia, aborginals feared going to doctors or hospitals for fear of being killed. And perhaps Sir Terry has not yet read the words of Dr Christopher Hufeland, Goethe's doctor:
"The physician should and may do nothing else but preserve life. Whether it is valuable or not, that is none of his business. If he once permits such considerations to influence his actions, the doctor will become the most dangerous man in the state."
The campaign for assisted suicide is indeed truly frightening. The only security against the mass killing of the sick, disabled and elderly are laws which are based, not on eugenic ideas of which lives are worthy of continuance, but on the inestimable value of human life. And the sick, disabled and elderly depend for such laws on the pro-life movement, church leaders, and responsible politicians working closely together to maintain a solid wall of pro-life resistance to any weakening of laws which uphold the sanctity and inviolability of every human life.

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