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    Wednesday, December 01, 2004

    Forgetting History: The Netherlands, 2004:

    A hospital in the Netherlands -- the first nation to permit euthanasia -- recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carrying out such procedures, which include administering a lethal dose of sedatives.

    Of course, the Netherlands isn't really the first nation to permit euthanasia. Germany, 1939:

    The killing was usually arranged by the director of the institution or by another doctor working under him, frequently by innuendo rather than specific order. It was generally done by means of luminal tablets dissolved in liquid, such as tea, given to the child to drink. This sedative was given repeatedly - often in the morning and at night - over two or three days, until the child lapsed into continuous sleep. The luminal dose could be increased until the child went into coma and died. For children who had difficulty drinking, luminal was sometimes injected.

    ....Hans F. went on to tell how severely impaired the children were..."Those who were cleared for killing had prescribed for them much higher doses of luminal....Those children who were spastic,....had cerebral polio,....were idiots.....were unable to speak or to walk. And as one says today, allright, give them a sedative because they have been screaming. And with these sedatives...the child sleeps. If one does not know what is going on, he is sleeping. One really has to be let in on it to know that... he really is being killed and not sedated.

    Initially limited to "mercy killings" at the behest of parents, Germany's child euthanasia program expanded within a few years to become automatic for babies deemed unlikely to live worthwhile lives - those with congenital deformities, cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome, microcephaly, hydrocephalous, and "serious hereditary diseases." Those categories soon expanded to older children and teenagers with the same conditions, and others - borderline mental impairments, juvenile delinquents, and of course, Jewish children, the ultimate "serious hereditary disease" of the day.

    The Netherlands may not be in any immediate danger of descending from infant euthanasia to ethnic euthanasia, but once a society convinces itself that one type of life is not worth living, it's all too easy to convince itself that another type is equally unworthy. It's all just a matter of opinion. Today the unhealthy infant, tomorrow the hated minority.

    posted by Sydney on 12/01/2004 06:43:00 AM 0 comments


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