Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ian Dowbiggin: A scandal in the euthanasia archives - continued.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Ian Dowbiggin
Ian Dowbiggin's article - A scandal in the euthanasia archives - was published in the Prince Arthur Herald on November 30, 2015. Dowbiggin, who is the author of the book: A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America, a history professor at UPEI and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada asks - Why has the euthanasia movement hidden or destroyed its history?

Today, the Prince Arthur Herald has published a follow-up article where Dowbiggin responds to an article by Stuart Chambers, a professor at the University of Ottawa, who challenges Dowbiggin's assertion with ad hominem arguments. Dowbiggin responds:
First, let’s dispense with that old canard, used by euthanasia enthusiasts like Chambers, that opponents of euthanasia are all “sanctity of life” proponents. It simply isn’t true; just ask disabilities groups which oppose euthanasia. Nor is it only Christians involved; Islam, Hinduism and many strands of Judaism condemn both assisted suicide and mercy-killing. 
When the euthanasia movement was propagandizing in favour of involuntary mercy-killing for either the good of the species or the economic welfare of society, there was no consensus supporting euthanasia. 
Quite the contrary; there was widespread opposition to this policy. Yet the movement forged ahead in defiance of experts from across the political spectrum and scripted its sorry history. 
Indeed, that is my very point about the euthanasia archives scandal. Chambers and his allies don’t want to open up the topic of their own shady history. If I were in their shoes, I might feel the same way. Their attempts to change public opinion depend on keeping their past under wraps. 
Lastly, Chambers says that even if euthanasia advocates had made mistakes in the past, all is well today. “Euthanasia lobbyists,” he reassures us, could never “maneuver” around the “checks and balances” of euthanasia laws and kill people with disabilities. 
Except that they can and do. The New Yorker, a widely-read and respected magazine which has never been accused of defending the “sanctity of life” doctrine, recently ran a piece about a 64-year-old Belgian woman whose doctor killed her in 2012. Mercy-killing has been legal in Belgium since 2002. The woman had been living with depression for years and therapy seemingly had not helped her. 
Her doctor, known as Belgium’s “Dr. Death,” had no psychiatric expertise, but he was an euthanasia zealot. Under his “care” she got “tired of life” and eventually asked to be euthanized. Her daughter and son only learned of the act the day after her death. The son is currently challenging Belgium’s law before the European Court of Human Rights.
What the Belgian case shows is that people with disabilities can be swayed by ideological activists in the medical profession, with literally fatal consequences. 
Guidelines drawn up by democratically-elected officials aren’t worth the paper they’re written on when individuals with disabilities are “treated” by militants like Belgium’s “Dr. Death.” 
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: only a historically-informed understanding of today’s debates over end-of-life care can enable the public to see through the arguments of euthanasia advocates such as Stuart Chambers. They are not telling the truth. Could they have their own “secondary motives”?
Ian Dowbiggin had the unique experience of being granted access to the archives from the Euthanasia Society of America, archives that appear to have disappeared after Dowbiggin published his ground-breaking book: A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America linking the euthanasia movement to the eugenic movement, a movement of people who advocated euthanasia for people with disabilities.

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