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Monday, January 16, 2012

The New Eugenic Nation


It’s here, and has been for some while – our New Eugenic Nation.

And it’s becoming more and more visible to the point that only now are parents getting to see it up close, ugly, and very personal – that their child’s disability is used as a tool of discrimination to deny them treatment. Predictably, parents and lay people are astounded.

They shouldn’t be. This has been going on for years and as we become less sensitized to issues of death and dying, and as the pro-death movement keeps up a constant drumbeat that dying is better than living, people with disabilities will see their treatments increasingly going to other people.

The new scarlet letter is “D” for disability, and those bearing it are judged as less worthy of treatment and life than the rest of us.

On Sunday I posted the heartbreaking story of a parent whose child has been refused a kidney transplant because she is “retarded.” (here).

Yes, the cold assessment of the medical team was that a transplant for the child was not worth it because she was retarded and would not benefit as much as someone, apparently, who was not retarded.

This is, unfortunately, the current state of affairs. How did we get here?

Well, many people, even those who think the culture of death has it wrong, disagree with me that we are in an age of new eugenics. For many, it comes too close to what the Nazis espoused and is therefore, for some reason, off limits.

Unfortunately, they are wrong.

Eugenics is back.

The idea of eugenics is not hard to understand. It is based on the notion of the pursuit of perfection (or as close as humanity can come to perfection). Eugenics says that humans, like all animals, reproduce to keep the species not only alive, but in good shape. What this means is “survival of the fittest,” which is achieved by the law of the jungle: the stronger (more perfect) will live to reproduce and the sickly and disabled (less perfect) will be abandoned or destroyed. Over generations, this will mean that the species grows stronger and more perfect and therefore have better chances of survival.

This is exactly what, in the 1920s, the eugenicists in the US, the UK, and Germany fervently believed. Of course, they not only believed it, they put their fatal ideas into practice. In the US and Britain, hundreds of thousands of people considered “inferior” (including the retarded, the blind, the deaf, those who did not conform to society) were sterilized or institutionalized to prevent them from “breeding.” It was the next step from natural selection: deliberate dividing of populations into those who were worth something - usually their ability to contribute to society in some meaningful way - and those who were of less worth – those who couldn’t contribute and who were a drag on society.

The Nazis took eugenics to a very active form by killing their own citizens with disabilities as a means of preventing weakness.

And that’s exactly what we, here in the US, are doing today.

And it’s being pushed by the medical profession, those who previously had pledged to “do no harm,” now morphed into “do no harm to those who are more perfect, never mind doing harm to those judged less perfect.”

How so?

Well, when medical decisions have to be made about the care or treatment of the disabled, that judgment often goes against their best interests. In the piece I referred to above, the doctor made the mistake of actually saying what he meant: That the child was not worth the transplant. The subtext here, of course, is that there is another more perfect child who would benefit more.

Plain and simple: In the US today, having a disability makes you a second class citizen likely to get less consideration because you won’t ever be what the nondisabled population will be.

Now, the child in the piece will not likely be deliberately killed by doctors as the Nazis did, but in refusing her the transplant, they will be killing her nevertheless.

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