by Michael Avramovich
In his magisterial book, Dark Continent, Professor Mark Mazower’s history of 20th century Europe, describes how Europe was the killing field of the 20th century. For decade after decade, Europe was the site of wars, great destitution, and numerous attempts to destroy and exterminate whole populations. Hundreds of millions of Europeans were killed, imprisoned, tortured and expelled in the name of racial, political and national ideological “progress,” including an entire generation of my family. One of the most powerful sections in his book was his description of how the eugenic and racist policies of the Nazis actually were an extension of policy recommendations of social and medical “reformers“ in other nations. Professor Mazower writes, “The German racial welfare state . . . was in so many ways the apotheosis of very widespread trends in European social thought,” which we know from Scandinavian, French, Swiss and American legislation authorizing sterilization and other eugenic policies. The Nazis simply brought German efficiency to these eugenic policies.
In the United States, many supporters of Planned Parenthood and its organizational predecessors supported the eugenic trends in Europe. Even our nation’s Supreme Court ruled in Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927), that a state statute permitting compulsory sterilization of the unfit, including the intellectually disabled, ”for the protection and health of the state” did not violate the Constitution. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., famously concluded his ruling by declaring, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” (Incidentally, this Supreme Court decision has never been expressly overturned.) Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, believed that through abortion, birth control, forced sterilization and euthanasia, society could rid itself of “the unfit.” And who were the unfit? She dedicated her life to ridding the world mostly of poor black babies, whom she described as “degenerate and defective.” She was a featured guest of the Ku Klux Klan and a proponent of the eugenic policies of the Nazi regime in the 1930s. But, she wrote, one needn’t fear unfair excesses because “the rights of the individual could be equally well safeguarded by the Nazi regime.” After all, she noted in a letter praising Nazi eugenic efforts, “There are 1,700 special courts and 27 higher courts in Germany to review the cases. . . . but in no case should the rights of society be disregarded.”
Now we have come full circle. It was widely reported on Saturday that a terminally ill 17-year-old became the first minor to be officially euthanized in Belgium since age restrictions on euthanasia were lifted in 2014. Jacqueline Herremans, a member of Belgium’s federal euthanasia commission (death panel?), said in a French media report, “The euthanasia has taken place.” She further announced that the euthanasia was done “in accordance with Belgian law.” Few details were provided other than the minor child had “a terminal illness.” Belgium is presently the only country in the world that allows terminally-ill children of any age to choose to end their life, but Belgian law requires that the minor be capable of making “rational decisions.” Further, any request for euthanasia must be made by the minor, be studied by a team of doctors, approved by an independent psychiatrist or psychologist, and have parental consent. The only thing missing is the 1,700 special courts and 27 higher courts to give their legal authorization….always within the law, of course. The Netherlands also allows mercy killings for children, but only for those aged over 12. Lord, have mercy!